De Lima: Killing of SAF officer on video a summary execution
MANILA, Philippines—It is a summary execution that “ought to be punished.”
This was how Justice Secretary Leila de Lima described the point-blank-range shooting of a helpless Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) officer captured on video and allegedly taken during the Jan. 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that claimed the lives of 44 commandos.
The justice secretary ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), on Wednesday, to validate the authenticity of the video and investigate circumstances it had captured.
“You know, off hand, when somebody is being killed while he is already helpless, defenseless, wounded, that is a summary execution,” De Lima said.
The video, which has been spreading online since Wednesday, shows a man finishing off a commando with two shots in close range as the latter lay barely alive on the ground. The PNP-SAF has appealed to the public to stop sharing the video.
“Based on that bare video, if everything there is authentic, including that particular portion about that uniformed guy being killed in that manner, then certainly there is criminal liability here,” De Lima said.
“That is an act of cruelty, an atrocity. And atrocities under any setting, whether it’s peace time, war time or [in] armed conflict is not at all acceptable, totally unacceptable, cannot be tolerated, cannot be sanctioned and ought to be punished,” she said.
She said the investigation, if conducted, would find out who were on the video, including the police officer killed, and the person who pulled the trigger.
“First, we need to authenticate, verify, validate the authenticity of the video and the incident that is being shown. If that is authenticated or validated, then certainly that will be evidentiary,” De Lima said in an interview on Wednesday.
“We have to establish … who shot him and from which organization [the shooter is]: Is he [from the] MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) or PAGs (private armed groups)?,” De Lima said.
Through a special panel, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the NBI are investigating the Mamasapano clash, working within a two-month deadline to identify who should be held accountable for the deadliest single police operation in recent history.
De Lima earlier directed the panel to “prioritize” as evidence official reports coming from the Philippine National Police (PNP), including results of its independent Board of Inquiry probe launched on Mr. Aquino’s orders, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Commission on Human Rights.
The clash between the PNP-SAF on one hand and the MILF, the BIFF and private armies on the other, arose from what was a long-planned operation to arrest Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan. He was confirmed killed in the assault.
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