Aquino meeting with SAF survivors ‘turned out very well’ – PNP chief
Why did President Aquino summon the survivors of the deadly Mamasapano operation in Malacañang?
One of the survivors who attended the meeting last Friday said the President wanted to personally hear from them how the SAF killed “Marwan.” He also “wanted to know the truth.”
“He wanted us to personally answer the questions raised on the SAF’s account on Marwan’s killing. He said he only wants to know the truth,” the survivor, who declined to be identified, said in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
Aquino met with the 10 of the 13 members of the 84th Special Action Company or Seaborne that led the assault on the hideout of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan” in Barangay (village) Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25. It cost the lives of more than 60 Filipinos, including 44 SAF commandos, 16 armed Moro guerillas and three civilians.
Almost eight months after the tragedy, an “alternative version” of the Mamasapano clash was floated when Aquino himself disclosed in an Inquirer Multimedia forum that the SAF’s photo of Marwan lying dead in his hut “raised more questions than answers.”
Since Aquino’s revelation, sources from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, supported by the MILF’s investigative report, claimed that it was not the SAF’s assault team but Marwan’s aides who shot and killed the terrorist.
Police sources said Aquino had ordered the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to reinvestigate the SAF’s version on the incident. Photos the Seaborne troopers took inside the hut were also submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation for authentication.
Aquino then, in a national address last Thursday, affirmed that it was indeed the men of the elite police unit who took down Marwan. A day after his speech, he met in Malacañang the SAF troopers who assaulted Marwan’s hut.
This was also confirmed by Philippine National Police chief Director General Ricardo Marquez in a text message to INQUIRER.net. He said the survivors’ meeting with the President “turned out very well.”
In an ambush interview at Camp Crame on Monday, Marquez said the President was “pleased” with the narration of the assault team’s leader.
“The President even gave them a tour inside Malacañang,” he said.
Survivors thank Aquino
The meeting which started at 4 p.m. on Friday lasted for three hours.
“We thanked him for what he said in his speech,” said the survivor.
“With his demeanor, I think the President was convinced with our narration. He said there were pictures to prove and that convinced him more,” he added.”
After the meeting, he said Aquino showed the survivors around the Malacañang and even told them about supernatural occurrence in the Palace.
“He gave us a tour and showed to us the pictures of former presidents. He also brought us to the podium where he’s giving speeches,” he recalled.
More Valor awardees
It was also discussed in the meeting the awards the SAF troopers will receive for the bravery they showed in the high-risk mission. Last August, Aquino came under fire for allegedly ordering the exclusion of the Mamasapano troopers on the list of police service awardees.
“A Seaborne trooper has been recommended to receive a Medal of Valor. The rest (of the 84th SAC) will be given the second highest award, the distinguished conduct medal,” said Marquez.
Marquez declined to reveal who from the Seaborne was nominated as recipient of the highest service award but a survivor told INQUIRER.net that they had recommended Senior Inspector Gednat Tabdi, one of the slain 44 commandos who cut off Marwan’s finger.
The PNP chief also hoped that the review of the PNP’s Special Promotions, Awards and Decorations Board will be finished before the year ends.
“The Secretary of the Interior and Local Government also vowed to expedite the process,” added Marquez. Julliane Love de Jesus
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