PNP vows justice for 30 slain cops
MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine National Police vowed justice for at least 30 elite Special Action Forces officers who died in a clash with rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Sunday.
“Pursuit operations are underway against lawless elements who figured in an encounter with our troops in Maguindanao today even as we mourn the loss of some police commandos of the PNP SAF who offered the supreme sacrifice for peace,” PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said in a statement.
“I extend my deepest sympathy to the orphaned families of our fallen policemen. They died a meaningful death on the side of justice and righteousness. They did not die in vain. Justice and peace will prevail,” he added.
At least 30 policemen and five MILF members died when a clash broke out after police forces entered the MILF base, allegedly violating the ceasefire agreement between the two parties.
“Operational information from the field are still sketchy at the moment but what we know so far is that there is an ongoing operation in the area against a high-value target believed to be behind the recent spate of bombings in Central Mindanao,” he said.
In an earlier Inquirer report, Von Al Haq, vice chair for military affairs of the MILF, said the PNP SAF did not properly coordinate with the MILF when they set out to serve warrants of arrest for Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as “Marwan,” and “Basit Usman,” a Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-making expert, in Barangay (village) Tukanalipao.
Espina said the PNP has coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines for “an operational assessment to determine possible courses of action.”
“I have instructed police commanders in the area to make available all support systems to contain the situation and mitigate the effects on civilian communities in the area,” he added.
While dealing with the deaths of some PNP forces, Espina said they are also prioritizing “medical evacuation and treatment of the wounded and extraction of the casualties from the battle zone.”