Militant partylist wants US embassy to face probe on SAF massacre
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – With reports of residents witnessing US military forces during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left at least 60 people, including 44 SAF commandos, dead, militant lawmakers said officials from the US Embassy should be invited to the inquiry in Congress.
Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said it has become “imperative that a thorough investigation be launched immediately by Congress to get to the truth” after reports have surfaced that US operatives were involved.
Zarate said reports from a witness in Maguindanao revealed that at least one American soldier died during the fierce fighting between Philippine government police commandos and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.
Zarate said Jerome Aba, national spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro, was able to interview a farmer in Tukanalipao who saw a body of a Caucasian soldier in the scene of the fire fight.
“Of course, Aba declined to reveal the name of the witness for security reasons. I hope to get the witness to testify during the investigation,” said Zarate
“They (civilian residents of Tukanalipao) were the first ones to arrive in one of the two areas where the encounters happened,” Zarate added.
Zarate said the civilians arrived in the area after troops of the MILF withdrew.
“The farmer, as well as other civilians who arrived in the area, also said they saw one particular helicopter, among others that shortly arrived in the area, hover over the bodies to carry specific bodies,” Zarate said.
Zarate said Suara Bangsamoro’s discovery about US military’s “direct involvement in the military operation that ostensibly targeted suspected terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir aka Marwan of Jemaah Islamiyah and Abdulbasit Usman of Abu Sayyaf came after reports of four Americans seen in Mamasapano in the aftermath of the clashes surfaced.”
Bayan Muna asserted that the 1987 Philippine Constitution, as well as the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement, has forbidden foreign military troops from engaging in direct military operations in the Philippines.
And with the reports coming out about the role of US forces in the operation, the US embassy should be summoned by Congress, the partylist said.
“With these revelations, it is imperative that Congress starts its probe and the Truth Commission should immediately be formed. We will ask that the US embassy be summoned and we hope the embassy will not use its diplomatic immunity and answer questions as to its role in the bloody operations,” Colmenares, also a House senior deputy minority leader, said.
Zarate cited the immediate need to shed light on the accusations since the operation in Mamasapano was similar to the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
“There are more questions now than when this was exposed. For example, if the SAF commander keeps on insisting that Operation Wolverine is very much like the US operation to get Osama bin Laden, then he has already admitted that this botched operation has US backing, support and participation. Another question is how are we certain that the US agents seen in the evacuation of the dead and wounded SAF did not take the reported US soldier who died, or the supposed body of Marwan or his cut finger for them to test for his DNA? These are just few of the questions that have to be answered for us to get to the truth,” Zarate said.
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