PNP probe body to look into why over 300 SAF men failed to rescue 44 SAF men | Inquirer News

PNP probe body to look into why over 300 SAF men failed to rescue 44 SAF men

/ 08:28 PM February 03, 2015

SAF 44 poster

Pictures of the slain PNP SAF killed in an alleged “misencounter” with MILF and BIFF in Mamasapano,Maguindanao displayed outside the gates of Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. RAFFY LERMA

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police board of inquiry investigating the deaths of 44 Special Action Force troopers will be also probing why their comrades were unable to respond to the bloody encounter last week in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Philippine National Police officer in charge and Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said 315 SAF commandos were on standby at the highway in Barangay Tukanalipao when the carnage happened.


“We would like to know what happened. The 300 plus troopers were supposed to back up the 55th Special Action Company, which was the blocking force. Only one survived. We are asking the 300 plus troopers what happened, why they weren’t there,” said Espina on Tuesday.


Last January 25, 44 SAF commandos were killed when they were waylaid by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The policemen were supposed to serve arrest warrants on two high-profile terrorists, Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino terrorist Basit Usman.

Forty-one members of the 84th Special Action Company served as the assault team, which served the warrant in Barangay Pinsandawan, while the 55th SAC was the blocking force in Tukanalipao.

Eight of the 41 policemen from the 84th SAC were killed, while only one out of the 35 members of the 55th SAC survived the attack.

As of February 2, the BOI—headed by Director Benjamin Magalong of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group—has gathered 286 sworn statements so far from SAF commandos, military officials and civilian witnesses.

Magalong said they would work to get the statements of 420 people in the investigation.


An operational audit team has taken on the daunting task of interviewing all witnesses to the Mamasapano massacre.

A source said relieved SAF Director Getulio Napeñas was being interviewed at the CIDG on Tuesday for his statement on the bloody law enforcement operation.

Earlier, Napeñas took full responsibility for the debacle in Mamasapano, saying it was a top secret operation and that he only reported to President Aquino and suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima.

However, Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas were informed of the operation only after the carnage had happened early morning of January 25.

Espina said the BOI would thresh out all the details of the operation, from its planning stage up to the time when the wounded and killed SAF commandos were extracted from the battlefield.

“We were given one month for the BOI to investigate. I am optimistic. We are somehow getting a picture of what happened although it’s not yet complete,” the official added.

Napeñas is required to submit an after-operations report the BOI as part of its investigation.

Asked if the BOI would go as far as interviewing its suspended PNP chief, Espina said he would not interfere in the BOI’s work but it would talk to Purisima if needed.

Even Espina himself will not be spared from the BOI’s interviewing of witnesses, which will include military officials as well.

“We will also invite the military and they said they will be cooperating 100 percent with the inquiry, on how the Philippine Army responded to the operation, etc,” the PNP officer in charge said.

He added that the PNP would review the police operational procedure in determining the lapses and who made the lapses to avoid a repeat of the bloody encounter.

The 14 injured SAF policemen will be interviewed as well, as Espina clarified that they have not been hiding the wounded policemen but securing their safety from possible retaliation.

The PNP officer in charge also assured the public that he would not meddle in the work of the BOI and that he would ensure its independence.

“I just told them, to please to get to the bottom of this. We are seeking justice for the 44 SAF troopers. Be very factual, categorical and draw your conclusions from there. Never draw conclusions from conjectures. Hard facts are needed before a conclusion is drawn,” Espina said.

The BOI will be making recommendations for both honoring those who responded to the call of duty and penalizing those found to have committed lapses, as well as criminal cases against the perpetrators.

“It was definitely an overkill,” Espina said, referring to the way the SAF men were killed, adding that there was really no intention to let anyone live among the trapped SAF men.

The PNP has also asked the MILF to return the firearms of the fallen 44 SAF troopers, which were reportedly seized by their attackers.

“They should return that to us. They cannot sell those firearms. That would be another violation, they should show proof of their sincerity. Forty-four of my men died, they should give back those guns,” Espina added.

He assured that the BOI would only ferret out the truth as a way of giving justice to the slain policemen.

“I will see to it that it is the truth. It is the only way you can find justice for the people who were killed. I do not want their lives wasted,” the PNP officer in charge said.


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Roxas meets SAF 44’s kin but has no answers

TAGS: Basit Usman, BIFF, bloodshed, board of inquiry, carnage, Ceasefire, clash, Encounter, gun battle, inquiry, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Marwan, MILF, News, peace process

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