Board of Inquiry to call Aquino
MANILA, Philippines–THE BOARD of Inquiry (BOI) on Friday signified its intention to interview President Aquino and get his statement on what he knew about the ill-fated police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25.
But a source said it would be up to the President to decide if he would give a statement to the BOI.
Another source, who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak to media, said the BOI, composed of the Philippine National Police officials, also wanted to get the statements of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.
In its third progress report submitted on Friday to Espina, the BOI said three of the 346 surviving Special Action Force (SAF) commandos had yet to submit their statements on the incident, and that more than 400 witnesses had been interviewed since the body’s creation on Jan. 26.
The progress report also mentioned the turnover of the firearms taken from some of the 44 fallen commandos, and a planned ocular investigation in Mamasapano from Feb. 24 to 26.
Kept in dark
Earlier reports said the President, along with resigned PNP Director General Alan Purisima, had knowledge of the ill-fated operation led by since relieved SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas, but that Espina and Roxas were kept in the dark about it.
The botched mission to arrest two high-profile terrorists led to the deaths of 44 SAF commandos, 18 Moro rebels and five civilians. Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan” was also killed, but his associate, Filipino terrorist Basit Usman, managed to slip away.
Police Director Benjamin Magalong, BOI chair, earlier said the inquiry was almost finished and the final report, due at the end of the month, would be submitted to Espina, Roxas and the President.
The BOI held meetings last week with the Operational Audit Team to discuss the SAF operation from its planning, execution and termination, during which the police commandos clashed with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters guerillas.
Meanwhile, the guns turned over by the MILF are now with the PNP crime laboratory for ballistic tests and forensic examination. The returned items will be part of its investigation, the BOI said of the 13 M4 rifles, two machine guns and the upper receiver for an M4 rifle.
A cell phone returned by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police regional office is now with the Anti-Cybercrime Group for digital forensic examination.
A clearer picture
The BOI is scheduled to go to Mamasapano, Maguindanao, this week to conduct an onsite survey and interview key personalities from the AFP and the MILF, “to [get] a clearer picture of the actual events and to validate the claims, assertions and allegations regarding the incident.”
Consolidated medico-legal reports on the victims showed that nine SAF men died of gunshot wounds to the head, 18 suffered gunshot wounds to the head, trunk and extremities, and 17 died of gunshot wounds to the trunk and extremities.
All of the police commissioned officers died of gunshot wounds to the head, except for Senior Insp. Max Jim Tria who died of gunshot wounds on his extremities.
The BOI earlier said three of the victims had gunshot wounds in their trunk, an indicator their bullet proof vests may have been removed before they were shot.
Originally posted: 3:50 PM | Saturday, February 21st, 2015
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