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Can inquiry board come up with truth?

/ 12:04 AM February 20, 2015

The death of 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and the wounding/maiming of 14 of their comrades by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Jan. 25, should be investigated by a truth commission and not just by a board of inquiry.

The truth commission should look into who were involved in the planning of that operation and what its main and secondary objectives were. Was the chain of command intact or was the planning confined to a select few, dooming its success from the start? Did personal and narrow considerations supersede the systematic approach in extracting an international terrorist who was ensconced in the lair of unfriendly forces? Was vainglory more important than the lives of troopers who unquestioningly obeyed orders that put their lives in great peril? Could a hastily convened board of inquiry, beholden to the powers-that-be, really come out with the truth?

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Only a truth commission, made up of a retired general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a member of the academe, a media practitioner, a retired career diplomat, and a retired jurist, can dig up the facts and reveal the truth! The life of the truth commission should be five months. It should be adequately funded, staffed and provided with security. Being an independent body, it should not be beholden to anybody in government and the private sector. It should be clothed with the power to access, obtain or demand information from any government source or private entity.

The findings and recommendations of the truth commission can pertain to the highest position, the presidency and all subordinate positions. The findings and recommendations should be final and executory. Only the Supreme Court can review its findings and recommendations, if an appeal is addressed to the high court.

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The ill-fated PNP-SAF raiding team successfully killed Marwan. The PNP-SAF team cut off one of the fingers of the dead terrorist to make sure that they got something for the DNA test. The raiding team also took photographs of the dead terrorist. This happened before the PNP-SAF raiding team was ambushed and waylaid by elements of the MILF and the BIFF while exiting from Mamasapano.

The government of the United States has offered a reward of $6 million for the capture, dead or alive, of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan. As a humanitarian gesture, the US government, through the US Embassy in Manila, should convert the $6-million bounty into its peso equivalent—P263,280,000 (P43.88 to $1) for distribution as cash assistance/aid to the bereaved families—widowed wives, orphaned children (for their education), dependent parents. The gesture will go a long way in easing the plight of the surviving dependents and improve the image of the United States.

—APOLONIO G. RAMOS, 42 Mindanao Street, Marikina City

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TAGS: board of inquiry, mamasapano clash, Philippine National Police, Special Action Force
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