Senate invites high-profile officials for the reopening of Mamasapano probe

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(File Photo) Arrival honors for the fallen Special Action Force (SAF) troopers after Mamasapano incident. The Mamasapano battle ended with 44 police commandos, 18 rebels, and four civilians dead.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A year after the Mamasapano encounter, the Senate reopens its probe on the bloody incident on Wednesday (January 27).

The operation that aimed to capture or neutralize two top terror suspects claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and four civilians.

The new inquiry on Mamasapano incident will be a joint public hearing of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs; Committee on Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation; and the Committee on Finance.

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The committees invited at least 24 resource persons—most of them cabinet members and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The list includes Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang, retired PNP chief Alan Purisima, and former PNP Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napenas.

In a radio interview, Senate Public Order committee chair Sen. Grace Poe encouraged all resource persons to attend voluntarily and not wait for the committee to issue them a subpoena.

She said it would only prolong the process.

“Hinihikayat ko lahat ng inimbitahan at pinadalahan namin ng liham na dumalo para mas mabilis na natin matapos ito. Kung hindi sila dumalo, mas matatagalan sapagkat baka ipatawag sila muli sa isa na namang pagdinig,” the senator said.

[Translation: I encourage all those who are invited to attend for its fast resolution. If they don’t, then it might take longer and there’s a chance that they would be summoned in another hearing.]

Senators have agreed to give the floor to Minority Leader Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who moved for the reopening of the investigation.

Enrile, who was in detention for plunder during the Mamasapano hearings last year, said he has new information that would directly link the president to the operation.

Also read: FVR favors reopening of Senate probe of Mamasapano clash

Also read: Honasan: 'Chain of command vital in Mamasapano Senate probe'

No need for President Aquino to attend

The Senate Committee on Public Order, in its first report, previously stated that President Benigno Aquino III is responsible for the botched operation.

Even so, the president is not part of the list of resource persons the Senate panel invited for the reopening of the investigation on Wednesday (January 27).

Poe believes that the president should not and cannot be compelled to attend the inquiry.

Ang Pangulo ay mayroong immunity. Hindi naman natin siya pwedeng pilitin na dumalo sa ganitong pagdinig. Siguro kung magkakaroon ng affidavit ang ating Pangulo na sinumpaan din, pwedeng gamitin ito na basehan,” Poe said.

[Translation: The president has immunity. We cannot compel him to attend such hearings. If he will issue a sworn affidavit, it may be a valid basis.]

Watch: Grieving mother blames Aquino for fallen SAF 44

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Poe added she stands by the previous committee reports on Mamasapano encounter, which were signed by 21 senators.

CNN Philippines' Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.