Drones seen hovering over Mamasapano a week before tragic clash, says member of probe team
DAVAO CITY — As early as seven days before the January 25 bloody encounter that killed 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and at least seven civilians, Mamasapano residents had already noticed drones hovering over their houses.
Gabriela Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan said this was what the four-day fact-finding mission to barangays Tukanalipao, Pidsandawan, Lusay and Tuka, which she had joined, found out from villagers.
The villagers also told the fact-finding mission that the activities of the drones reached it peak the night before January 25.
The drones had completely disappeared after the incident of January 25, she said.
“They saw them hovered over their rooftops,” Ilagan said, recounting the testimonies of women and residents before the fact-finding team. “They called them small airplanes that twinkled at night.”
Ilagan said the presence of drones could only point to America’s hand behind the botched operation.
“Seven days before the incident, busy na kaayo ang drones (the drones were already very busy),” Ilagan said, “They were at their busiest the night before the encounter, which alarmed some women who thought there might be a military operation.”
“They can’t sleep because of the noise and they began to worry, thinking it must be a military operation,” Ilagan said, “But the women told themselves, there’s already a ceasefire going on, and there’s a peace process, that’s how confident they were that there would no longer be military operations.”
That’s why, Ilagan said, the women were so surprised at dawn when they were awakened by gunfire, and they realized they had to run again for their lives.
Ilagan said President Aquino would face another impeachable offense if it would come out that he allowed the direct hand of the US in the botched Mamasapano operations. “Allowing Americans to have a direct hand in the operation would be a betrayal of the Constitution, a betrayal of public trust, a betrayal to the police commandos who died in that operation,” Ilagan said.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate also pointed out the reluctance of Congress to talk about the command responsibility of the President and the role of the Americans in the botched operation.
“Congress has started to ask questions, but would not pursue the issue further,” Zarate said, citing, among others, the questions as to why the police turned the specimen of Marwan’s finger directly over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) instead of turning it over to the scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) and our own National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“We have our own investigation protocols, why did they have to bring Marwan’s specimen directly to the FBI?” Zarate asked.
He also said the claims by top PNP, AFP and DILG officials that President Aquino did not know anything about the Mamasapano operation was unbelievable and outlandish.
“President Aquino was in Zamboanga city on the day of the encounter, which was his mother’s birthday,” Zarate said. “He knew when the 44 SAF commandos bled to their deaths in Mamasapano, but he only came out in public four days after, ‘only to absolve himself,’ as if he did not know anything about the operation. It’s still too early for Holy Week for President Aquino to play Pontius Pilate,” Zarate said.
He said that by absolving himself, the President is covering up his responsibility and the responsibility of suspended PNP director General Alan Purisima on the botched operation.
“Most of all, he is covering up the role of the elephant in the room,” Zarate said, referring to the United States, whose interest it is to capture Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, dubbed by the US as Southeast Asia’s Osama Bin Laden. “There’s an elephant in the room,” Zarate said, referring to the US’ role in the botched operation, “But because it’s too big, we can’t see it, and even if we can, refuse to see it.”
Zarate said the lives of the SAF 44 were sacrificed in the name of the US global war on terror, allowing Americans to minimize American casualty in this war by sacrificing Filipino lives.
“The hand of the US can’t be ignored in this operation,” Ilagan said. “In the first place, whose war on terror is the American war on terror? Whose most wanted list does Marwan belonged but in America’s most wanted list? Whose dollar to pay the US$6 million bounty but American dollars?” she asked.
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.