MANILA, Philippines—The moment of truth will likely come on Wednesday.
President Benigno Aquino hopes to make known by Wednesday the charges that the government would pursue against certain personalities in connection with the August 23 bus siege at the Quirino Grandstand.
“We're coming out hopefully by tomorrow (Wednesday) the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee and the specific charges to be filed against individuals,” the President said in a chance interview after speaking before an employment Congress in Tagaytay City.
Aquino reiterated that he had adopted most of the recommendations of the IIRC, which had sought to file administrative and criminal charges against 13 personalities and three television networks for the botched rescue operations more than a month ago on Hong Kong tourists taken hostage by dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.
Eight Hong Kong tourists and Mendoza were killed after a 13-hour standoff that turned bloody in the end.
“(The report) is more or less in line with the recommendations of the IIRC. More, rather than the less,” President Aquino told reporters.
The President earlier named the personalities that the IIRC wanted to be charged and held responsible for the incident, but withheld the specific charges against them pending a Palace review on these recommendations.
Aquino had since received the results of the Palace review done by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
In Malacañang, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte assured the public that the charges that the government would file against these personalities were strong and would hold in court.
“That was the purpose why the President took a bit of time to make sure because he does not want charges to be filed that later on will be junked,” Valte told reporters.
“He wants to make sure that the evidence is there, that the sufficient charges was identified so that when the case is filed, the case will progress and will prosper.”
Asked whether the President had finally met with his friend, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno, who was among those recommended to face sanctions by the IIRC, Valte said she was not aware if they already met.
The Palace earlier said that Puno was in Vietnam for an official engagement when President Aquino returned home from a working visit to the United States.
The release of the much-awaited decision of Aquino on Wednesday will come exactly a week ago after he came back from the US.
Among those recommended to face sanctions were Puno, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, former Manila Police District chief Rodolfo Magtibay, National Capital Region Police Office chief Leocaldo Santiago, as well as media personalities Erwin Tulfo of ABC5 and Radio Mindanao Network and RMN anchor Michael Rogas.
The three television networks recommended to be liable as well were ABS-CBN, GMA 7 and ABC5.
Christine Avendano, Phil. Daily Inquirer