Unidentified Caucasian killed in Mamasapano
VIEWER DISCRETION NECESSARY: Excerpts from a video that purportedly shows at least one Caucasian-looking casualty in the encounter site in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Even though the video has been blurred in parts, it still makes for graphic viewing. Public interest, however, requires that we air this minimally edited video. The original is almost 8 minutes long; INQUIRER.net has excerpted a 2-minute stretch that starts seven seconds into the video, and then a shorter clip at 7:22.
“Buddy, what happened to him again?”
The camera focused on the body of a man who looked like a Caucasian, his shaven head tilted to the right, right eye and mouth half-open, left eye completely shut.
He lay bloodied in the cornfield among dead commandos of the 55th Special Action Company (SAC) of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF).
The body appears in the first few minutes and the last few seconds of the nearly eight-minute video of the aftermath of the Mamasapano clash on Jan. 25, furnished to the Inquirer by a TV journalist who covered the investigation of the bloodbath.
That there were Americans among the SAF commandos who carried out the covert operation to take down Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” was one of the most persistent rumors that circulated in Central Mindanao after the Mamasapano clash.
Forty-four SAF commandos lost their lives in the botched operation, but it was said that two Americans were also killed in the clash with Moro rebels, an allegation that was promptly denied by the US Embassy in Manila.
But the rumors persisted and weeks after the Mamasapano clash, the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines closed its mission in the country.
One of the dead was allegedly a “blue-eyed man.” The other was black and huge that he could not be carried on the gurney as his body was whisked away by his compatriots.
The video obtained by the TV journalist from a source from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was the first visual indication of foreign participation in the SAF operation to get Marwan.
The TV journalist told the Inquirer that the conversation in the video was translated from the Maguindanaoan dialect into Filipino.
Curiously, every time the camera focused on the dead Caucasian, those who were taking the video would refer to him as “buddy.”
The following lines were said in Maguindanaoan:
“Nahirapan si buddy. Bakit ginanyan niyo?”
“Nahirapan si buddy.”
Then the men shifted to English:
“Buddy, what happened to him again?”
The TV journalist said his source claimed that there were two men among the dead SAF who appeared to be Caucasians but only one of them appeared clearly in the video.
The video was graphic, showing most of the mangled bodies of the SAF commandos up close.
Part of the conversation went like this:
“Nawalan ng bunganga.”
“Ano na ba yang nangyari sa kanila?”
“Sa tabi ng ilog, ang dami dami doon. Dito sa Tukanalipao pumasok sila pero di na sila nakalabas.”
“Dito tayo sa tabi ng isang baryo sa tabi ng tubig.”
“Ito si buddy, nahirapan.”
“Isang platoon ito ano?”
“Wala ka na hahawakan dyan.”
“Nahirapan si kaibigan.”
“Etong asset nila, nahirapan.”
“Eto yung ‘S2’ nila.”
The Inquirer showed the video to an MILF source, who said it was the first time he had seen it.
The source, however, noted that the dialect used by those who took the video was Maguindanaoan but mimicked the accent of the Maguindanaoans from the north.
“The ones talking were clearly from central Maguindanao,” said the source.
The Inquirer learned about different versions from various sources. Some said there were indeed Americans among the 55th SAC commandos. Others said there were no Americans among the dead.
One source, a ranking government official, said there were no Americans among the casualties from the strike force, the SAF 84th Seaborne.
The Army soldiers who evacuated the dead and the wounded Seaborne commandos should have seen the foreigners, the source said.
All Inquirer sources requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, with the investigation ordered by President Aquino of an “alternative truth” about the Mamasapano clash still going on.
Two other Inquirer sources said in separate interviews that they were puzzled why a US-contracted, noncombat Evergreen Bell helicopter arrived almost immediately after the encounter.
The chopper landed near the provincial headquarters of the PNP in Shariff Aguak for the evacuation of the SAF casualties.
It got there even before the Philippine Air Force Hueys.
In February, the Inquirer learned from military sources that there were eight Americans at the command post set up in an abandoned base of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Shariff Aguak, the Maguindanao provincial capital next to Mamasapano.
The foreigners were monitoring the ongoing operations following the bloodbath from “Oplan Exodus,” the code name of the counterterrorism operation to get Marwan, the sources said.
President Aquino disclosed the investigation of an emerging “alternative truth” to the Mamasapano debacle at a forum with Inquirer editors and reporters last week, but declined to give details.—Nikko Dizon
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