Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Palace defends AFP, PNP officials in Senate inquiry

MANILA, Dec. 15 (PNA) -— Malacanang warded off attacks against top police and military officials who were not able to attend a hearing called by the Senate on Tuesday.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde took exceptions to insinuations that top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) deliberately snubbed Tuesday's hearing called by the Senate committee on national defense and security chaired by Senator Rodolfo Biazon.

”We appeal most humbly, we beg for the understanding of our legislators in this time. We appeal to the senators to please understand the situation of our generals if ever they cannot show up immediately in the hearings since our generals, while engaged in a battle, still have to fight another battle in Congress instead of being able to direct the troops in the field,” the press secretary pointed out.

In a Malacanang press briefing, Remonde said Philippine National Police (PNP) director-general Jesus Versoza and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Victor Ibrado called him last night to inform him that they would likely be unable to attend the Senate inquiry since they are still in Maguindanao.

He stressed that Versoza and Ibrado's absence to show up in the hearing was not intentional since both have to oversee the troops in Maguindanao while the province is still in the state of emergency along with the province of Sultan Kudarat and Cotobato City.

Remonde appealed to the senators to "understand the situation of our working generals" who are ensuring the law and order in Maguindanao and the safety of the residents notwithstanding the lifting by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Proclamation 1959 which placed the area under martial law for a week.

He reminded the senators that the province, however, remain under a state of emergency.

Remonde, however, was quick to assure the senators that top security officers will show up at the right time after ensuring that peace and order in Maguindanao is back to normal and the threat to the safety of civilians in that part of Mindanao has been neutralized.

Remonde also said Palace officials are willing to cooperate with Senate inquiries in aid of legislation as long as such summons conforms to a precedent ruling by the Supreme Court on SC vs. Ermita case.

"... So please help us assure our highly respected senators that we are ready and willing to cooperate," he said.

A visibly irked Sen. Biazon earlier invited Versoza, Ibrado, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and the officers from the 6th Infantry Division detailed in Maguindanao but all of them did not make it to attend the Senate inquiry.

Only Director Luiso Ticman, Director Raul Bacalso, Chief Superintendent Fred Cabales and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director Raul Castaneda managed to show up in the Senate investigation. (PNA)

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