Monday, August 28, 2006

Melo Commission Vows No Sacred Cows Spared

To "Close Shop" Once Meddling Is Seen

Members of the Melo Commission headed by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Melo took their oath today before Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban vowing it will not spare any sacred cows and quitting if there's any party who will try to meddle in the investigation.

The commission was created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to investigate media and leftists killings.

Interviewed after the closed-door oathtaking, Melo said that he will allow the chips to fall where they may in their effort to get to the root of the killings.

He said that his commission will first interview families of the victims and then proceed to interview "those who may be able to shed light on the killings."

"We will assert our independence. If there's someone who will try to influence then we will immediately close shop," he said.

Asked whether the commission will invite 7th Infantry Battalion Commander Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Melo said: "We will. But I heard he's already retiring. Nonetheless, we will still invite him."

Palparan has been tagged by parents of two missing students of the University of the Philippines as being the abductor of their children.

The Court of Appeals is hearing the petition for a writ of habeas corpus but Palparan has continously refused to attend the hearings citing health reasons.

Melo admitted that they don't have contempt powers to compell witnesses to attend the hearings but cautioned those who will refuse against negative public opinion.

"If they don't attend that's up to them. What will the people think if they don't appear? Ah, may tinatago 'yan," Melo said.

Melo said the commission will start its investigation in two weeks time which will take some four to six months to finish.

The commission will recommend the filing of complaints against those alleged, if need be, before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Other members of the commission are DOJ Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno, National Bureau of Investigation Director Nestor Mantaring, UP Board of Regents member Nelia Teodoro-Gonzalez, Butuan Bishop Juan de dios Pablos and Rogelio Vinluan as general counsel.

The commission will conduct its hearings at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) building in Pasig.

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