2 MILF units face sanctions | Inquirer News
Close  

2 MILF units face sanctions

Failure of intelligence led to clash with SAF troops
/ 01:21 AM March 26, 2015
ghadzali jaafar

Officials of two units of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are facing disciplinary action for failure of intelligence that helped spark the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident, according to senior MILF official Ghazali Jaafar (shown in photo). RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Officials of two units of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are facing disciplinary action for failure of intelligence that helped spark the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident, according to senior MILF official Ghazali Jaafar.

In a phone interview with the Inquirer on Wednesday, Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said the group’s 105th Base Command and 118th Base Command failed to monitor the entry of Malaysian-born terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and his Filipino associate, Basit Usman, into Mamasapano.

ADVERTISEMENT

The two units also failed to monitor and report the entry of Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos into Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano on Jan. 25, Jaafar said.

MILF investigators will talk to officials and members of the two units, Jaafar said.

FEATURED STORIES

“After talking to them, we will decide what kind of disciplinary action will be imposed (on them), and one is possible suspension,” he said.

“Disciplinary action like suspension runs for several months,” he said. “After serving the suspension, they could be reinstated to their posts or not.”

Base commanders

The MILF 105th Base Command is led by Zacaria Goma and the 118th by Wahid Tundok.

Eid Kabalu, a former spokesman for the MILF, said suspension comes with the stripping of one’s title and cutting off supplies.

Citing the case of Ameril Umra Kato, the former commander of the 105th Base Command, Kabalu said the MILF leadership imposed a six-month suspension.

“They were not allowed to carry or use their firearms, [which] were stored inside the camp and logistical support was cut off,” Kabalu said.

ADVERTISEMENT

He said Kato was suspended in 2005 after the commander and his men attacked a military detachment in Mamasapano, a violation of the ceasefire agreement with the government.

Kato and his unit were also behind the attacks on civilian communities in 2008, after the Supreme Court declared a peace agreement between the MILF the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unconstitutional.

Kato and his group broke away from the MILF and formed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), whose fighters entered the clash site after MILF guerrillas withdrew on Jan. 25, complying with a call for a ceasefire, the MILF said.

At a news conference in Manila on Wednesday, Jaafar said the commanders of the 105th and 118th bases were liable for failure of intelligence.

“We want to find out why, if they knew Marwan was there, they did not report it to their immediate superiors,” he said.

Jaafar said the MILF Central Committee would also investigate allegations that members of the MILF coddled Marwan and Usman.

Mamasapano clash

SAF commandos infiltrated into Moro rebel-controlled Mamasapano early on Jan. 25 to capture Marwan, Usman and Malaysian-born terrorist Amin Baco.

They killed Marwan in a gun fight in his hut in Tukanalipao (the MILF says the hut is in Pembalkan village), but Usman and Baco escaped.

As they withdrew from the town, the SAF commandos were set upon by guerrillas from the BIFF, MILF, Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) and armed residents of the area.

Forty-four SAF commandos, 17 MILF guerrillas and three civilians were killed in a gun battle that lasted for 12 hours.

Police and Senate investigators found that the failure of the SAF to coordinate the counterterrorism mission with the military and the ceasefire committees of the government and the MILF was the main cause of the clash between the commandos and the Moro rebels.

The MILF also investigated the incident and blamed the clash on the lack of coordination, which is required for law enforcement under the ceasefire agreement between the government and the Moro insurgent group.

In its investigation report submitted to the Senate on Tuesday, the MILF said the SAF commandos fired the first shots, killing two MILF guerrillas.

The MILF fighters responded and with their superior numbers and knowledge of the terrain, prevailed, the report said.

DOJ investigation

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also investigating the clash, with the deadline for the submission of a report getting extended on Wednesday to April 16.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima the DOJ National Prosecution Service and the National Bureau of Investigation had asked for a two-week extension because they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Their original deadline is April 2, which is next week, and it’s also Holy Week. I think their request is reasonable,” De Lima told reporters.

She said the DOJ received the reports of the Senate and the MILF on Wednesday.

The DOJ investigation would consider the reports, along with the report of the PNP board of inquiry, in producing its own investigation report, she said.

“These will be considered in the evaluation and the sourcing of facts and information. In fact, [the investigative team] will be inviting those mentioned in the [police] report for clarificatory questioning. I’m stressing that since our interest is criminal liability, the reports are a big help, although we also have our own sources of facts and evidence,” De Lima said.

Cause of deaths, injuries

The MILF investigation report said the failure of intelligence at the 105th and 118th Base Commands resulted in the deaths of 17 MILF combatants and three civilians, and injuries to 25 MILF fighters and four civilians.

It said that while the huts occupied by Marwan and Usman were in Pembalkan village, some 3 kilometers away from the MILF communities, “good intelligence operation” should have enabled the 105th and 118th Base Commands to detect and report the presence of the terrorists there.

“The laxity exhibited by the two base commands, perhaps influenced by overconfidence in the relative peace obtaining in their communities brought about by the ceasefire agreement with the government and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, should not go unnoticed. This attitude should not be tolerated,” the report said.

It said Marwan was killed in Pembalkan and the hut that he occupied was owned by an MILF fighter named Baguindali who died in 2008. The MILF did not know that Marwan and Usman had moved to Pembalkan, the report added.

“When Marwan was killed, he was with the group of Basit Usman in the vicinity where the BIFF and the breakaway group of Mohammad Ali Tambako are based,” the report said.

Tambako is the leader of the JIM. He was arrested in a combined military and police operation in General Santos City on March 15.

Usman’s hut is located some 119 meters away from Marwan’s. Both huts are surrounded by corn farms and banana plants and isolated from other houses in Pembalkan, the MILF report said.–With reports from Niña P. Calleja and Jerome Aning in Manila

 

RELATED STORIES

MILF: We just fought back

MILF completes report on Mamasapano clash

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
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: Basit Usman, Ghazali Jaafar, Mamasapano clash, Marwan, MILF, MILF report
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2022 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.