By Mario B. Casayuran
Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile believes he can put former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III behind bars for treason arising from the slaughter of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) at Mamasapano, Maguindanao, two years ago if he is asked to be the lawyer for the government.
The crime of treason, according to Enrile, could be slapped against Aquino by the government’s prosecutorial agency for aiding and comforting the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which he said is an enemy of the people of the Republic.
The 44 policemen were killed at an MILF-influenced area while trying to enforce a warrant for the arrest of international bombing suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” a Malaysian, who had a $5-million prize on his head put up by the United States.
“Palagay ko hindi niya masasagot yong tanong ko sa kanya pag naupo siya sa witness stand,” he said. (I don’t think Aquino will be able to answer my questions if he takes the witness stand).
“Ang may kasalanan dyan walang iba kundi presidente ng Pilipinas. Does he know his powers as Head of State? He has all the powers. He was in Zamboanga. He knew what was happening. He was still aboard the plane and they were already talking with (Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar”) Roxas and Defense Secretary (Voltaire) Gazmin. They were texting (suspended PNP Chief Alan) Purisima. They went to a headquarters and was briefed that there was a killing (of PNP-SAF members) in Mamasapano. He was with his defense secretary, the chief of staff, and Roxas,” he said. (Nobody is to blame but the President of the Philippines.)
“Why did he not issue an order to help those beleaguered people? There was not much casualties then. There were many casualties before the President did act. Why did he interfere in the project? It is the work of the police. He is responsible after he used Purisima as his point man, knowing he was suspended,’’ he added.
Enrile, a former Defense minister of the late President Marcos for 17 years, said it is clear that a stand down order was issued during the firefight.
“There is only one who can stop them (Armed Forces of the Philippines and SAF elements near Mamasapano) from moving (to help the beleaguered SAF combatants) and that is the Commander in Chief, the President of the Republic of the Philippines. No one else,” he added.
The Army and Air Force officials who did not help the beleaguered SAF operatives are exposed to court martial proceedings, he added.
“There is a standstill order during a firefight. God damn it, this country is rotten if that happens,” he added.
Enrile then asked aloud why the Office of the Ombudsman filed an economic crime against Purisima and (former SAF Director Getulio) Napeñas although 44 lives were lost.
“What is the graft and corruption there? The Ombudsman did it (file the controversial economic crime) to protect its boss (President Aquino),” he added.
After being temporarily released from the PNP detention center on graft charges arising from a pork barrel scandal, Enrile had the Mamasapano case reopened but the majority in the 15th Congress wanted him practically muzzled.
“Halos ayaw akong pagsalitain ng mayorya noon sa Senado (They virtually wanted to silence me). Why? They wanted to protect who? You know. There is an effort to protect the President of the country. He is no longer the President. His immunity has been lifted because he can be challenged in court. The courts are open to him. What makes him so special?” he asked.
But former President Aquino recently denied having a direct hand in the planning and execution of the operation that led to the slaughter of 44 SAF combatants.
He blamed Napeñas for the incident because he allegedly disobeyed instructions.
Former Senate Majority Leader Francisco Tatad said that since President Duterte already knows who are to blame for the Mamasapano incident, those involved must now face the music before the courts.
“Why did the President (Aquino) issue a stand down order?” he asked.
Tags: former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile,government, JPE vows justice for SAF44 if he gets hired as gov’t lawyer, Manila Bulletin, Mario B. Casayuran, mb.com.ph