WHAT WENT BEFORE: Mamasapano clash
ON JAN. 25 last year, the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos went to Moro rebel-controlled Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province to arrest Malaysian terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and Amin Baco, alias “Jihad,” and their Filipino associate, Basit Usman.
The commandos killed Marwan but Baco and Usman escaped. As they withdrew from the town, the SAF forces ran into rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. A gun battle that would last for 12 hours began. The battle left 44 SAF troopers, at least 17 MILF rebels and five civilians dead.
Besides the investigation by the PNP board of inquiry, other inquiries into the massacre were conducted by the Senate and the House of Representatives, by the MILF’s special investigation commission and by the International Monitoring Team, a group of foreign military officials that monitors the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.
On Feb. 9, the Senate committee on public order, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, along with the Senate committees on peace and finance, opened an inquiry into the Mamasapano operation.
After five hearings, the Senate committees concluded the inquiry on Feb. 24.
On March 17, Poe presented her committee’s draft report on the Mamasapano clash. Poe said the report was based on five public hearings, five executive sessions and 73 hours of full discussion attended by 37 resource persons and agencies. It was also based on more than 4,300 documents, she said.
The Senate report found that President Aquino had given assent to and had failed to prevent then suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima’s “unlawful exercise of official functions” of the SAF operation called “Oplan Exodus.”
For this, the report found Mr. Aquino “ultimately responsible for the outcome of the Mamasapano mission and must “bear responsibility” for the carnage.
It also spelled out the liabilities of the personalities involved in the operations but left to government prosecutors to determine their “conclusive liability.”
In September, calls to reopen the inquiry were expressed after President Aquino, in an Inquirer multimedia forum, hinted about an “alternative version” on how Marwan was killed. Mr. Aquino later affirmed that the terrorist was taken down by SAF men who raided his hut. Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives
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