Poe, Drilon at odds over Mamasapano recording
President Benigno S. Aquino III confers the Medal of Valor to PO2 Romeo Cempron, one of the slain SAF soldier in the Mamasapano Massacre, received by his wife Cristin Cempron at Camp Crame Monday (January 25). (MNS photo)
MANILA, Jan 26 (Mabuhay) – Senator Grace Poe and Senate President Franklin Drilon are taking opposite sides on the issue of listening to an audio recording of an alleged attempt to cover up the events of the Mamasapano encounter.
Poe said she is open to playing the audio clip when the Senate reopens its investigation on the bloody clash that saw 44 police commandos killed in an anti-terror operation.
“Welcome sa atin iyan e kapag may magtutunton ng kung ano mang nais nating malaman na katotohanan,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public order.
On the other hand, Drilon said any evidence obtained through wiretapping is inadmissible in court hearings and legislative inquiries.
“We are the lawmakers, we should not be the lawbreakers. Iyan po ay nasa Anti-Wiretapping Act, maliwanag po na hindi pwedeng tanggaping ebidensya ang unauthorized recording lalo na sa legislative investigation,” he said in a separate DZMM interview.
A retired police officer and senatorial aspirant, Diosdado Valeroso, earlier said he has a digital audio recording of a conversation between a high-ranking government official and a legislator that occurred a day or two after the clash that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers dead.
In the conversation, one of the parties was telling the other not to mind what happened in Mamasapano as it may delay the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
He said a group of civilians forwarded him the audio clip through e-mail.
Poe said the Senate needs to check the technical details of the 15-minute recording after Valeroso himself said he cannot vouch for the authenticity of the file.
She downplayed comments that the clip should not be played at the Senate hearing because it could have been obtained illegally.
“Ang mga batas na ito ay para malaman natin ang katotohanan at magkaroon tayo ng hustisya, itong mga anti-wiretapping at mga recording na ganito. Kung hindi pwedeng ilabas sa publiko, pwede naming maging basehan sa executive session,” she said.
She also said that the Mamasapano recording should not be treated in the same way as the infamous “Hello Garci” recording.
“Definitely, hindi ako natatakot sa mga banta nilang ito ay illegal, hindi pwedeng gamitin. Parang nadinig na natin iyan sa ‘Hello Garci’ noon e. Hindi naman pwedeng ganoon kung para lamang magtakipan ng katotohanan,” she said.
“Kung totoo ito, gawin nating basehan. At sa tingin ko naman, ako ay sasang-ayunan din ng marami nating kasamahan sa Senado.”
The “Hello Garci” tapes were audio recordings of a presumed phone call between former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when the results of the 2004 elections were being tallied.
The woman in the taped conversation asked the person on the other end of the line to ensure her lead of some one million votes over her rival.
The Supreme Court (SC) deemed that the “Hello Garci” tapes were acquired illegally and cannot be admitted as evidence in the perjury case against Garcillano.
In the interview, Poe said that instead of playing the Mamasapano recording at the Senate hearing, her colleagues may also opt to play the file at an executive session.
She added that if the file is not admitted as evidence, senators may instead use it as basis for re-establishing the timeline of events in the bloody clash.
Drilon said he has no intention of suppressing the evidence. He added it is up to the committee to decide what to do with the alleged audio recording.
But the Senate President stressed that he will not participate in a hearing that violates the law.
“Kung sasabihin ng nakararami na, ‘Hindi bale ang batas, basta gusto namin pakinggan’, e nasa mga senador po iyan kung ganyan ang atititude nila. Hindi po ako sasali sa ganoong klase ng proceedings,” he said.
The Senate committee on public order will reopen its investigation of the Mamasapano clash on Wednesday.(MNS)