THE Palace rejected Monday a challenge from Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to debate President Benigno Aquino III on the Mamasapano massacre, saying he had already had his chance to raise his issues at last week’s Senate hearing.
Enrile last week blamed Aquino for keeping his Cabinet and top military officials in the dark about the covert operation on Jan. 25, 2015, which killed 60 people, including 44 Special Action Force commandos.
On Sunday, the senator mocked the President as stupid for depending on incompetent officers to lead the operation, and challenged him to a debate.
But a Palace spokesman said Monday Enrile had had his chance, and the public has seen enough.
“Senator Enrile has had the opportunity to present his case,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
“It is best that our people focus their energies instead on how to sustain the momentum of our reform and transformation efforts that have gained the respect and admiration of the global community,” Coloma also said.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also rejected Enrile’s challenge.
“All that were needed to be asked by the senators have been asked. All that were needed to be answered by the resource persons have been responded to. Perhaps, the results of the Senate reopening of the Mamasapano should speak for itself,’’ Lacierda said.
Enrile earlier requested a reopening of the Senate investigation into the Mamasapano incident, claiming he had ‘’new evidence’’ that would show the culpability of the President over the botched anti-terror raid.
However, some critics said Enrile failed to present any new evidence.
The President has consistently blamed dismissed Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas for the deaths of the 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, calling him stupid and incompetent.
But Enrile said in a radio interview on dzBB that it was the President who was stupid for depending on someone he later considered incompetent.
He also hammered at the President for keeping his Cabinet and the military in the dark about the operation to neutralize two high-profile terrorists.
“He took it upon himself. He thought he could do it, but he was incompetent,” Enrile said in Filipino.
In planning the covert police operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, and Filipino bomb maker Basit Usman, Enrile said the President did not even talk to his Cabinet.
Instead, he deliberately compartmentalized Oplan Exodus to himself, then suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima, and Napeñas.
In doing so, he hid his involvement behind Purisima, Enrile said.
In last week’s reopening of the Mamasapano investigation, Enrile said the President could be held criminally liable for his actions—and inaction—during the Mamasapano massacre.
“He will be charged the moment he stepped down. That’s for sure,” Enrile said.