MANILA, Mar 9 (Mabuhay) – The head of the police board that investigated the January 25 Mamasapano incident admitted Monday that the bulk of evidence they had to scrutinize – contained in four large suitcases – made it difficult for them to meet their March 9 deadline.
In a press conference, Director Benjamin Magalong, the Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) said they asked PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina to give them another three days to finish their report.
“We cannot sacrifice the quality of our report. Kaya kaninang umaga, tuwag ako kay General Espina at nakiusap ako na kung pwede bigyan kami ng three days pa para matapos ang report. Tatlong araw lang po ang hinihingi namin at by Thursday kaya na namin itong isusumite sa kanya,” Magalong said.
Magalong said the delay was due to the bulk of evidence that the BOI’s Operational Audit Team (OAT) needed to scrutinize.
Magalong pointed out that the OAT only managed to finish its report and submit it to his office last Friday, instead of its original deadline of February 27.
“Ang pinakamalaking trabaho po ay ginawa ng Operational Audit Team. The OAT was supposed to submit their results last February 27 kaya lang po sa dami ng ebidensya na kailagan nilang pag-aralan, nag-request sila ng extension at yun nga, they were able to submit it last March 6,” Magalong said.
Magalong also showed to the media four large suitcases containing documentary evidence that the BOI had to peruse to come up with the report.
“Sisiguraduhin natin na yung findings ay kaya naming idepensa. Sabi ko nga, established by facts and supported by evidence. Hindi lang yung puro findings na mahirap idepensa,” he said.
Magalong also said the extension of the submission of the report was not meant to sanitize its contents or to cover-up higher officials who may be found liable in the incident that left over 60 people, including 44 policemen, dead and imperiled the government’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Alam po namin that a lot of speculations will be coming out in this extension, pero kami na ang nagbibigay ng assurance na talagang ang purpose namin sa extension ay wag lang ma-sacrifice ang quality ng aming investigation at report. Hindi namin itataya ang kredibilidad namin. Dahil dito, hindi lang kredibilidad namin sa BOI ang nakataya, kundi ang kredibilidad ng buong PNP ang nakasalalay dito,” Magalong said.
Magalong also said that after the report’s turnover to Espina on Thursday, the BOI will also deliver a presentation to the media on the key findings of the report as soon he receives a “go” signal from Espina.
“It will just be a simple turnover of the report to the officer in charge. We are also preparing our presentation, once magbigay ng go signal na i-report sa publiko ay iri-release po namin agad. It is just a matter of having it approved by the officer in charge,” he said.
He added that the BOI will also prepare copies of its report to be submitted to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the Senate and the House of Representatives, Department of Justice and Commission on Human Rights.
Magalong, however, admitted that there were some limitations encountered by the BOI in the conduct of its investigation.
He said among these were the refusal of top officials of the Armed of Forces of the Philippines, MILF and resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima to undergo follow-up interview by the Board.
Magalong said even President Benigno Aquino III also did not grant the BOI’s request for an interview.
“Gumawa po kami ng paraan, through our SILG Mar Roxas para i-express yung aming intention para mainterview ang Pangulo. Pero wala pong nangyari. Wala po kaming na-receive na reply. But you know it’s the prerogative of the President,” Magalong said.
Magalong said Purisima also refused to submit his cellphone to the BOI for forensic examinations.
Magalong pointed out that the Board does not have the power to compell these personalities to acede their request as the BOI is only a fact-finding body and not a judicial or prosecutorial body.
Magalong, however, assured the public that the report will be fair and comprehensive and would answer all the questions regarding the Mamasapano bloodbath.
“Our report will be very substantive at mabibigyan tayo ng sapat na paningin kung ano talaga ang nangyari sa Mamasapano,” he said. (MNS)