By Vanne Terrazola
Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan on Saturday defended former Interior secretary and senatorial aspirant Mar Roxas from President Duterte who implicated him to the 2015 Mamasapano massacre.
Pangilinan said Duterte was “politicking” and supposedly attempting to divert public attention when he blamed Roxas as among those reponsible for the death of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in the failed operation in Maguindanao.
“Raising the matter anew is pure and simple politicking, and a means to shun important and pressing issues affecting the Filipinos such as poverty, lack of opportunities, indignation over China’s aggression, and corruption hounding many of the administration candidates,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
The Liberal Party (LP) president recalled the Senate’s investigation in the botched raid against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other terrorist groups in January 2015.
The probe found that Roxas, who has authority over the Philippine National Police (PNP) as DILG chief, was not informed about the so-called “Oplan Exodus” by the SAF troopers.
Instead, former President Benigno Aquino III and former PNP chief Alan Purisima were held responsible for bypassing the police chain of command.
“Charges have been filed and the courts are now handling the matter. Let’s allow the judicial processes to proceed and give the persons involved their day in court. That is where accountability is ultimately determined,” Pangilinan said.
The senator, meanwhile, urged the public to not be confused by Duterte’s statements against Roxas who runs under Otso Diretso slate.
“The public should remain vigilant and not be misled by these diversionary tactics meant to confuse and keep voters from scrutinizing the administration’s failures and their candidates’ track records,” Pangilinan said.
“If we act like a broken record, we will not be able to move forward and attend to the real issues at hand,” he added.
Candidates of the opposition Otso Diretso have been on the receiving end of Duterte’s tirades recently, particularly Roxas, whom he earlier described as the “number one [political] butterfly”.
After blaming him for the Mamasapano tragedy, Duterte hit Roxas , who was former Transportation secretary, for the controversial Metro Rail Transit-3 mess.