House leadership rejects separate probe on hostage crisis

September 24, 2010 12:34 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Sept. 23 — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday rejected the proposal of the minority bloc of the House of Representatives to conduct a separate investigation on the bloody August 23 Manila hostage incident.

"Let's not be a copycat of anybody. Kung meron ng nag-iimbestiga unless you can say na mali ang imbestigasyon na yan (If someone is already conducting an investigation, unless you can say the investigation is wrong), why jump into that? There must be a lot of things that we can investigate in this Chamber," said Belmonte in his weekly press conference.

"I think there is no need to repeat the whole thing. I think we should get on and I think we have learned a lesson from it," he added.

Belmonte believed the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) had been exhaustive.

He also assured that the Lower Chamber will be furnished with a complete copy of the IIRC report.

"It will definitely come out. Let me assure you that the whole report will definitely come out. I’m 100 percent sure. We will demand it if they don't give it but I’m sure that within a few days after the President arrives, we will be furnished, you the media and me here in the House," he said.

The Speaker said it is not in the character of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to hide documents.

"Wala naman sa character ni President Noy yung nagtatago, sometimes nga eh to a fault na bakit mo sinasabi lahat yan (It is not in the character of President Noy to hide anything, sometimes to a fault, that makes people wonder why he is saying those things)," he said.

House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday urged his colleagues to conduct a separate investigation on the hostage crisis "to ensnare those primary liable" for the mishandling of the bloody incident.

Lagman said the Lower Chamber set aside the 11 resolutions filed calling for an inquiry in deference to the IIRC probe.

He, however, said it turned out that the IIRC report was "insufficient" and "inadequate."

Meanwhile, on the issue of jueteng and other illegal numbers game, the House leader expressed openness on the conduct of an inquiry if someone could present evidence.

He even called the investigation that would be conducted by the House as an "exercise in self-mortification, self-flagellation."

Belmonte said he is bothered that the name of the House and some of its members were being dragged and tainted.

"I’m bothered but I believe that people should not just say it. Puwede din naman yung congressional inquiry just to find out if there are congressmen involved," the Speaker said.

"It's so easy to name names. These are all allegations. This is a regular ritual here, people are always coming around every so often and say ito yung mga names, eh wala namang ebidensya na inihaharap (they would say these are the names but they don't present any evidence)," he said.

Isabela Rep. Paul Dy was mentioned on the list of those allegedly involved in the illegal numbers game, but the lawmaker denied saying he owns a franchise of the government-run small town lottery (STL).

Belmonte noted that he is against the legalization of jueteng.

"It's victimizing the small guy because you know if it is true that these hundreds and even billions of pesos are being made in jueteng then it's coming from somebody's pocket and I think it's from the poor people," he said. (PNA)



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