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BOI to return to Manila without talking to MILF commanders on Mamasapano clash

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao, Philippines – The Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry (BOI) will be returning to Manila without interviewing Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders who were allegedly involved in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano carnage that claimed the lives of 44 police commandos, 18 MILF rebels and five civilians.

The BOI was created to investigate the botched operation that got Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan, killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao but exacted heavy casualties on the side of the PNP Special Action Force that mounted the covert operation without sufficient coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

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BOI Director Benjamin Magalong, also the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief, said they tried to set interviews with the rebel group’s field commanders but the MILF’s leadership did not allow it.

On Tuesday, Magalong was scheduled to meet with Wahid Tundoc, the MILF’s 118th Base Command commander, but the meeting was canceled as there was no clearance from the rebel group’s central committee.

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The board spent almost five hours waiting for Tundoc at the residence of Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town on Tuesday, but Tundoc failed to show up.

He said he particularly wanted Tundoc interviewed by the board, since he was involved in helping restore the ceasefire.

Dimaukom said he then tried again to arrange a meeting between Magalong and Tundoc at his house in Cotabato City, but which, again, failed since Tundoc would rather meet Magalong with Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs.

Magalong’s group, along with reporters, was at Jaafar’s house inside Camp Darapanan at 10 a.m., and finally Tundoc came at around 1 p.m.

But after handshakes with Magalong and Jaafar, Tundoc had to excuse himself for the afternoon prayer.

Visibly disappointed, Magalong said the board could not just compel or “demand them (Tundoc and others) to speak to an interview by the board.”

Magalang said although Tundoc would casually talk with the team in some brief exchanges, “it would have been different from an actual interview.”

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Magalong said the details they were planning to get from the MILF field commanders would not have a big impact on their probe.

“We only want to clarify gray areas with them, but since we can’t get it from them, we can sort it out with other sources,” he said.

Von Al Haq, MILF vice chair for military affairs, earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that any government institution or body could not directly talk or meet with leaders of the base commands without a formal request.

“They cannot just directly talk with the base commands. If they wish to have a meeting with the commanders there should be a formal request that will be coursed through the peace panels,” Al Haq said.

He added that this formal request procedure is being observed by the MILF as required by the ceasefire mechanism under the peace negotiations.

“This is only the proper process required by the peace mechanism. This is also applicable to the MILF if we want to meet with government forces,” Al Haq said.

But Magalong talked to Jaafar during Wednesday’s visit to Camp Darapanan, the rebel group’s main camp.

“We had a very constructive chat that is a big help to us,” he added.

Magalong said they would like to get a copy of the MILF’s own final report before wrapping up their investigation soon.

Jaafar said the MILF has done its investigation, the results of which would be submitted to the Malaysian facilitator of the peace talks with the Philippine government.

Jaafar said that in his closed-door meeting with Magalong, their conversation was not only confined on the Mamasapano gun battle but also the ceasefire mechanisms and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

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TAGS: armed groups, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Basit Usman, Benjamin Magalong, biff, bloodshed, carnage, Ceasefire, clash, covert operations, Crime, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipality, Encounter, fact finding, Ghadzali Jaafar, gun battle, inquiry, investigation, Justice, law, law enforcement, Local authorities, Local Governments, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Mamasapano mission, manhunt for terrorists, Marwan, Massacre, massacre of policemen, mayor, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, multiple murder, Murder, news, peace process, Philippine National Police, PNP board of inquiry, pursuit operations, Samsudin Dimaukom, Special Action Force, Von Al Haq, Wahid Tundok, Zulkifli bin Hir
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