No need for Aquino to apologize over SAF 44 deaths, Palace insists

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 15th National Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Congress at the Reception Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday (October 26), with the theme: “Pagdaloy ng Disenteng Trabaho at Maunlad na Negosyo, Kaagapay and PESO.” Also in photo are League of Provinces of the Philippines president Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali, Jr.; Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz; PESO Managers Association of the Philippines, Inc. president Vissia Marie Aldon; and Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 15th National Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Congress at the Reception Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday (October 26), with the theme: “Pagdaloy ng Disenteng Trabaho at Maunlad na Negosyo, Kaagapay and PESO.” Also in photo are League of Provinces of the Philippines president Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali, Jr.; Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz; PESO Managers Association of the Philippines, Inc. president Vissia Marie Aldon; and Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – There is no need for President Benigno Aquino III to apologize for the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members killed during the infamous January 25 Mamasapano clash, a Malacañang spokesperson said Thursday.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said Aquino has already assumed responsibility over the incident, where SAF members clashed with Moro rebels while on a mission to neutralize foreign terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“Inako ng Pangulo ang responsibilidad para rito, at maaalala ninyo noong ika-anim ng Pebrero, sinabi niya that ‘I will carry this with me ‘til the end of my days,’ at sa aking palagay ay sapat na ang mga naipahayag ni Pangulong Aquino hinggil dito,” Coloma said in a media briefing.

Coloma was reacting to Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s statement that Aquino should apologize over the deaths of the 44 SAF members in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the police and military.

Marcos, who is running for vice president in the 2016 elections, was in Luna, La Union, to visit the tomb of PO3 Omar Nacionales, one of the SAF trooper killed in the encounter.

Two weeks after the clash, Aquino claimed responsibility over the deaths of the 44 police commandos, saying he would carry the “tragedy” for the rest of his life.

“Ako ang ama ng bayan, at 44 sa aking mga anak ang nasawi. Hindi na sila maibabalik; nangyari ang trahedya sa ilalim ng aking panunungkulan; dadalhin ko po hanggang sa huling mga araw ko ang pangyayaring ito,” Aquino said.

Coloma also rejected Marcos’ allegation that the government is doing nothing to attain justice for the families of the 44.

“Paanong masasabing wala samantalang nag-imbestiga na ang Department of Justice at nakapaghain na ng information laban doon sa mga pinaghihinalaan at umaandar na ang proseso ng batas hinggil dito?” said Coloma.

“Baka lang nalilingid sa kanilang kaalaman ang mga kongkretong hakbang na naisagawa na,” he added.

Last month, criminal complaints were lodged against 90 individuals, including members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armies for the deaths of 35 of the 44 SAF members.

A supposed second batch of criminal complaints could not be filed yet as the identities of the suspects in the killing of the remaining nine SAF commandos from the 84th Seaborne command have yet to be determined. (MNS)

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