Ilagan: Impartial probe of Batasan blast first step toward justice

Dec. 14, 2007

By Rep. Luz C. Ilagan
Gabriela Women’s Party

Privileged speech, December 11, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a matter of personal and collective
privilege regarding the Batasan Blast, last November 13, 2007.

That fateful day will be forever etched in my mind.

Session had adjourned at 8:00 in the evening and those who had stayed
on to finish the proceedings were walking towards the South Wing
entrance of the Batasan Complex. I was with my colleague from
Gabriela, Congresswoman Liza Maza, her driver and security detail, my
staff, Lorraine Gallegos and my driver, Marcial Taldo. As Manong
Marcial needed to fetch our parked van, he went ahead of us.
Congresswoman Maza and her security meanwhile decided to go back to
their office at the third floor.

From the lobby, we could already see our white Toyota Hi-Ace van. My
staff and I proceeded to board our van from the left side of the
vehicle since it was a converted van. As I was about to board van, we
were stunned by a deafening explosion and a very bright light coming
from the left side.

My staff and I managed to walk away from the van, propelled by a
strong gust of wind, towards the center of the south wing rotunda.
Suddenly, my legs buckled down and upon touching my thigh, I realized
that my right leg was bleeding. I looked back at the van, trying to
search for our driver. I couldn’t see him, the area was filled with
smoke while several people were frantically going to and fro the
explosion area.

That was when a man approached us and assisted us away from the blast.
Another lady called the police for assistance so that we could board
the police patrol car. With us was another wounded lady. All three of
us were rushed to the Malvar General Hospital.

Several hours afterwards, I learned that Manong Marcial was the first
casualty of the blast. His slumped body remained at the steering wheel
despite attempts from our staff left at the House of Representatives
to insist that he be removed. A colleague and fellow Mindanaoan,
Congressman Wahab Akbar and 3 others also died. Several more,
including Congressman Henry Teves were seriously injured.

It was indeed a harrowing experience.

Mr. speaker, it has almost been a month since that brazen attack on
the House of Representatives. A lot has happened since then. A house
filled with incriminating paraphernalia in the nearby Payatas
community of was raided; suspects stupid enough to stay within a few
kilometers’ radius from the scene of the crime were arrested and
presented to the media. Charges have been filed and so-called
masterminds identified.

The Philippine National Police, in record time has declared the case
solved but not closed. The manner with which they conducted their
investigation is an insult. The investigation that was conducted was
so hastily done, its conclusions drew more questions than answers.

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