Close  

Iqbal: MILF men also risked lives ‘trying to save’ SAF troopers

/ 10:42 AM February 12, 2015

iqbal

Mohagher Iqbal. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) also “risked” their lives trying to save elite policemen engaged during the Mamasapano encounter, its chief negotiator told a Senate hearing on Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Facing for the first time the Senate probe on the incident, Mohagher Iqbal said his men risked their lives “to effect the ceasefire” while trying to save the policemen who were pinned down by enemies when they were deployed to serve the warrants of arrest to suspected terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Iqbal said that as early as 6:30 in the morning of Jan. 25, the MILF was already working to effect the ceasefire between the members of the Philippine National Police -Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and unidentified armed groups in the area who, at that time were engaged in a heavy firefight in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

FEATURED STORIES

“Because of the limitations in communications and because of the on-ground situation of battle, the ceasefire was obtained only in the afternoon,” he said.

“MILF members who were part of the joint ceasefire committee risked their lives to effect the ceasefire. We were trying to save those men,” he pointed out.

Iqbal said “credit must be given where credit is due,” noting the 28 SAF men that he said were rescued by his group.

“Through the efforts of the MILF, 28 SAF were rescued from imminent death that day. The 28 SAF were part of the first team and holed up in an area one kilometer northeast of Tukanalipao. They were already being fired upon by unidentified armed groups,” he said.

“The 28 SAF are alive today because of the efforts of the MILF and finally, it is the will of God,” he further said.

It would be “unfair,” Iqbal said, to immediately put the blame on the MILF, saying it was not the only group present in the area.

He said the SAF men fought other armed individuals, whom he said belonged to different networks and groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), private armed groups, and local militias among others.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The delicate task of finding out who did what, especially the reported atrocities, cannot immediately be blamed on the MILF. That would be unfair,” he said.

“We need to investigate. On the part of the MILF, aside from our own investigation, we push for a truly independent group that would conduct a fair and impartial investigation of the incident,” said Iqbal.

He also reiterated that the MILF did not coddle two known terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman.

Marwan and Usman were the targets of the SAF operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25, but lack of coordination with the MILF, which has a peace agreement with the government, led to a firefight which resulted in the deaths of 44 police officers, 18 MILF men and three civilians.

The police officers also figured in an encounter with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the breakaway group of the MILF, which was also in the area.

“The MILF and BIFF are separate groups,” Iqbal said.

“We are not coddling Usman and Marwan, they were outside MILF areas,” he added.

He also reacted to an assertion that the MILF is a terrorist group, saying that it was “unfair.”

“The MILF is against all forms of terrorism; it (terrorism) is against Islam and the beliefs of the MILF,” he said.

RELATED STORIES

Espina cries for justice

MILF: We lost our men too

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Fallen 44, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, SAF, SAF 44, Special Action Force
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.