Press Release
January 26, 2017

Koko proposes South Africa-like Truth Commission for new Mamasapano inquiry

Two years after 44 Special Action Force commandoes were felled in a remote Mamasapano cornfield in an operation against a Muslim bomb-maker that had gone awry, Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said the Malacanang-proposed Truth Commission to reinvestigate the massacre could "finally ferret out the truth and pinpoint those who are ultimately responsible for it."

Pimentel said "it is a moral necessity" to launch a new investigation of the series of events and decisions made in the chain of command that led to the death of the forty-four in a day-long gunfight with Muslim rebels.

"There is no peace in the grave of these brave men if we don't establish the truth, and if the ends of justice not served," he said in a press statement.

"The families of the victims rightly feel that justice was not served by the last administration. This new administration will give them justice, and it will be rendered by an independent, impartial Truth Commission, whose creation I fully support," Pimentel said.

He said he was in favor of what President Duterte's envisioned as an Agrava Commission-like body that would go after the truth with the same "intensity and authority" regardless of rank and status.

It will be recalled the Agrava Commission (or Fact-Finding Board) investigated for months the August 21, 1983 airport assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and indicted, in its majority report, Chief of Staff Fabian Ver and several high-ranking officers of the Armed Forces.

The five-man panel was headed by former Court of Appeals Justice Corazon Agrava, who issued a minority report that concluded the killing was a military conspiracy.

Pimentel said he would take one step further by proposing a commission similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission created in 1995 in a post-apartheid South Africa to investigate gross human rights violations during the Apartheid regime from 1960 to 1964. The 17-member commission was comprised of nine men and eight women, and was chaired by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"The Philippine Truth Commission will have to be free of political partisanship," Pimentel said. "It will set the parameters of an independent inquiry that shall brook no outside interference and shall serve one and only one master, which is the truth."

"To not act in the face of failure of justice is to abandon our task to fight for what is right for our people, and what will contribute to healing the nation," he said.

Pimentel said that the nation continues to suffer from the lack of closure of the incident "because previous investigations were not thorough or were not publicly examined or discussed leaving the incident open to so-called alternative truths," Pimentel said.

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