MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang hinted yesterday that more names may be added to the list of officials and private individuals whom the incident investigation and review committee (IIRC) has recommended charged in connection with the Luneta hostage fiasco last August.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the list made by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, head of the panel that conducted the investigation, may still be amended.
“Yes there might be additions to the recommendations,” she told Palace reporters in a briefing, noting that the De Lima report is now undergoing review by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa.
“The review is already ongoing. The ES and CPLC are undertaking the review. They have to wait and give the results of the independent review when the President arrives,” Valte explained further.
She refused to make any statement, however, with regard to the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to start a separate investigation upon the request of the relatives of the Hong Kong survivors.
“The Office of the Ombudsman is an independent body. The IIRC was an independent fact-finding committee. If charges will be filed, if any, let’s wait if and when it happens,” Valte said.
Should there be modifications on the De Lima report, the deputy presidential spokesperson gave assurance that this will be “supported by evidence.”
“They mentioned additions. The President wants to be assured the charges are supported by strong evidence,” she said.
“The review of the IIRC report will be completely objective. We are appealing to everybody to just settle down. In the interest of fairness, let’s wait for the review of the executive secretary and the chief presidential legal counsel,” Valte said.
Lim: PNP demoralized
Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim yesterday said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is now demoralized because of the Aug. 23 hostage-taking incident.
Speaking before the 12th National Convention of Metropolitan and City Judges of the Philippines, Lim said he was hopeful that he will get his share of justice, referring to his inclusion in the list recommended for prosecution by the IIRC.
He said the public should at least remember that the policemen are the only professionals who would lay down their lives for the people.
“The people will always call the police especially in times of emergency or when their lives are in danger. That is the distinction we have the honor to carry. Now, the lowly policeman continues to be derided and maligned,” he said.
He said he takes exception to the committee findings “which are not borne out of facts” and said the report “was a shotgun blast, hitting anybody in the way.”
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, on the other hand, lashed out at De Lima, saying that she and other Cabinet officials who were supposedly involved in dealing with the hostage crisis could not be found during the incident.
Speaking during an interview on radio dzBB by entertainment mogul Kuya Germs, the vice mayor said that it is De Lima who has committed “injustice.”
He also demanded the resignation of De Lima and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
“Nobody in the National Government was present in time of crisis. And these are the same people who are accusing us,” he stressed.
Moreno said the hostage crisis was a “national crisis” and not a “local crisis,” therefore, the heads of the National Government should be responsible and not the leaders of the local government.
Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star