Press Release
February 15, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed concern that the integrity of the government panel investigating the Ultra tragedy has been put under a cloud of doubt by the statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo virtually laying the blame for the incident at the doorsteps of ABS-CBN broadcast network.

Pimentel said the Presidents statement on the case is unfortunate because it has the effect of prejudging the government inquiry being conducted by a team formed by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

That will certainly affect the outcome of the investigation because the probe panel of the Department of Justice, under Secretary Gonzalez, will tend to hew to what the President has publicly pronounced on the incident, he said.

The minority leader stressed that investigation of tragic incidents like the Feb. 4 stampede at the Philsports Arena (formerly Ultra) in Pasig City should be pursued in the most impartial and objective manner if the people are to keep faith in the administration of justice in the country.

The investigation of the Ultra tragedy should be beyond the influence or narrow interest of any group, leader or family that has a stake in the case. The quest of justice for the victims of the tragedy should prevail over the personal view or bias of the President, Pimentel said.

He stressed that the probe should be insulated from partisan politics or the political agenda of any group if the outcome is to be credible and acceptable to the victims, their families and the general public.

In view the prevailing circumstances, Pimentel said it would be advisable for Malacañang to heed the clamor from various quarters to form an independent body that would get to the bottom of the tragedy that marred the first anniversary of the Wowowie TV variety show.

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