Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian expressed surprise over President Aquino’s non-inclusion of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) despite the fact that the 44 slain Special Action Force (SAF) troopers died for the government’s anti-terrorism campaign.
“The President could have at least extolled the heroism of the 44 SAF commandos and promise the families of the slain troopers that they will be given justice before his term ends on June 30, 2016,” said Gatchalian, who represents Valenzuela City’s 1st congressional district.
Gatchalian surmised that the President’s speech writers would not want to touch on the issue as this will again open himself to attacks especially due to the fact that the Ombudsman absolved the commander-in-chief of any responsibility from the bloody SAF operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Because of the Ombudsman resolution absolving the President, Gatchalian is questioning the fairness of the Department of Justice when its probers included in the charge sheet Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian for “command responsibility” over the May 13 Kentex fire that left 72 people dead, mostly workers in the slipper factory. Mayor Rex is the younger brother of Cong. Win Gatchalian.
Gatchalian cannot reconcile the fact that in the case Mamasapano firefight which resulted in the slaughter of 44 SAF commandos, the Ombudsman excluded President Aquino in the charge sheet when evidence shows that he had a direct hand in the botched police operation.
“There is a saying that the sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. If command responsibility is being applied to the case of Mayor Gatchalian, then it should also be applied to President Aquino because of his active participation in the planning and monitoring of the Mamasapano operation,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian pointed out that while the Valenzuela City mayor is being included in the DOJ charge sheet by virtue of “command responsibility” the Ombudsman have excluded President Aquino from the charge sheet despite the fact that the commander-in-chief was directly calling the shots in the SAF operation to neutralise international terrorists Marwan and Usman.
He said the only difference between Kentex and Mamasapano cases was that the 72 fatalities in the Kentex fire were victims of an accident while the 44 SAF personnel killed in Mamasapano were victims of poor planning approved by a suspended PNP chief and a hands-on commander-in-chief.
“If Mayor Gatchalian is being included in the DOJ case due to command responsibility, then the Ombudsman should have included the chief executive in the Mamasapano case because of the preponderance of evidence pointing to his direct hand in the Jan. 25 operation,” said the Valenzuela City lawmaker.
In its report to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the Field Investigation Office has recommended the filing of administrative charge of grave misconduct and criminal charge of violation of section 3 (a) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against former PNP Director-General Alan Purisima, former SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas and PNP Intelligence Group Director Senior Superintendent Fernando Mendez.
On the other hand, the DOJ panel said Gatchalian, along with two other local officials, should be charged for violation of Section 11.2.a (4) and (5) of Republic Act 9514 of the Fire Code of the Philippines. It also recommended separate charges against Gatchalian and five others for violation of Section 3 (3) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, in line with giving Kentex Manufacturing Corporation a business permit even when it did not have a fire safety inspection certificate.
“President Aquino cannot escape responsibility over the massacre of 44 SAF commandos since he not only bypassed the established PNP chain of command but worse, he allowed a suspended PNP chief to participate in the planning and execution of the SAF operation,” explained Gatchalian. (R. Burgos)