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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 25, 2016
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with Rolly Espina

Remembering Mamasapano

Rolly EspinaToday, we will be remembering the lives lost during the Mamasapano clash last year and the controversy that ensued after it led to the lowest rating in the entire presidency of Benigno Aquino III.

There has been no news yet on whether the national government will hold activities to remember the Fallen 44 SAF troopers or if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will also commemorate the death of 17 of their comrades who died in that clash.

Sadly, I guess this administration and the MILF leadership would rather forget that that incident happened than give honor to those who died in the line of duty, not to mention civilians that were caught in the crossfire as this may remind the public again of the major boo-boo, not just by the PNP leadership then but by Malacañang.

Though the investigation in both Houses of Congress and the DOJ led to reforms in the conduct of missions, the suspension of the BBL, the filing of charges against MILF members, we have yet to hear conclusively whether those charged were brought to prison or where former PNP Chief Alan Purisima is now.

We indeed have short memories and if the Palace opts to forget about this incident, in a couple of years, only the surviving families of the SAF troopers will ever remember what happened that fateful day last year.

Of course, with election season, the issue has been resurrected and another hearing is scheduled in the Senate post the claims of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile that he has new evidence that will show proof the President is accountable for the Mamasapano massacre.

A tweet online shows a retired police officer has come out with recordings of two officials allegedly talking about the incident, but as to the content of that recording or the identity of those two and whether that tape is for real, still remains to be verified and may just be the proof that Enrile is boasting about.

Our own Cong. Jeffrey Ferrer who chairs the committee that handled the congressional hearing said the reopening of the investigation is just going to be used by those who are running for the national positions and as such sees no need for a second probe.

Jeffrey pointed out that among those seeking senatorial positions is former SAF director, Gen. Getulio Napeñas, who is running under Binay's ticket. Until Jeffrey mentioned that one, I was not even aware that Napeñas is running since his name has not surfaced near the winnable in the senatorial race.

He also said that his vice-chairperson in the House probe, Rep. Samuel Pagdilao is also running for senator under Grace Poe's ticket this time. Indeed, this issue may just be used by those against the present administration, ergo, their candidate, Mar Roxas who was also the DILG chief that was kept in the dark when that botched operation happened.

If the issue will be used for politicking, then I agree with Jeffrey that it is better we lay the issue to rest, wait for the final results of the investigation by both Houses of Congress, let the DOJ and the courts handle the rest, and just remember those who died and keep their memories sacred.

If the Senate probe will bring nothing new except as another venue for grandstanding by those seeking the higher office and will just resurrect hurts, it is better that the Senate leaves it up to the courts to pursue this.

Of course the Senators can always claim it is not them but Enrile who is calling for the reopening of the probe and as such, will have to accord him all respect to his wishes.

However, they have to remember that Enrile too has an agenda against this government that allowed him to be jailed, albeit in the comforts of the hospital and released on humanitarian grounds.

According to Jeff, the draft of the investigation report is already being finalized and will take another joint session before it can be released to the public.

Until then, I think it is more prudent for the Senate to stop wasting people's money and time on this issue and let's get on with the healing process. 2015 has given us so much hurts. Let this year be the start of healing under a new leadership.

As an addendum to this issue, there was a featured story in the Inquirer yesterday about the new roads and bridge built in Tukanalipao, the site of the Mamasapano encounter. As the story goes, to attain these development gifts, 66 lives were lost. And within that story, a widow of one of the MILF members seeking to work abroad, leaving behind her children, so she can afford to raise them even at a distance.

Sadly, that's the price they had to pay to have development, to have peace.*

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