From as far as the Cordilleras, they came to pray for the Mamasapano dead
MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao – Wearing loin cloth (bahag), a spiritual leader from the Cordillera Region walked around the cornfield in the village of Tukanalipao here on Monday. He was performing a ritual (kapya), offering prayers and sacrificing animals for the souls of the 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force who died here a year ago.
At least 13 of the 44 SAF commandos who were killed here on Jan. 25, 2015, were from the Cordilleras.
“Before we came here, there was a trauma healing process among the relatives. It is an important process because they cannot sleep well and they have no peace of mind,” said Engr. Andress Ngaoi, who represented the council of elders of Cordillera.
“We have to do the prayer here because if the souls of their loved ones are still outside Cordillera, they will have no peace of mind,” he added.
Ngaoi said that before flying back to Manila, they were planning to meet some leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for a dialogue.
“We are open to that because we want to have good relations with the Muslims here in Mindanao,” he said.
Also on Monday, the MILF remembered their fallen comrades, the SAF members and the civilians who perished during the Mamasapano debacle a year ago.
“We do not commemorate in grandest fashion, we simply offered prayers for our slain fighters,” MILF chief Murad Ebrahim said in a news conference.
“We prayed for all — SAF, MILF and civilians. They came ahead of us because of the circumstances beyond our control,” he said in Filipino.
“We remember them in our prayers,” he added.
Mamasapano Mayor Benzar Ampatuan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that memories of what happened a year ago were still fresh.
“It hurts us. The memories are still there. The incident is hard to forget because innocent civilians were killed in the operation,” he said.
“But we are trying to cope and move on. We are calling for justice for all…not just for the police but also for the civilians and MILF rebels who were killed,” he added.
The fighting here a year ago left 44 SAF, 17 MILF rebels and five civilians dead.
The SAF commandos entered Mamasapano to get terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan. After killing Marwan, and as they were on their way out, the SAF men belonging to the 84th Company, clashed with armed men believed to be supporters of the terror suspect. Another SAF group, from its 55th company that served as a blocking force, had an encounter with members of the MILF and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
But a year after the carnage, the MILF has yet to serve the punishment to its members who were involved in the fighting.
Von Al Haq, spokesperson for the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the military arm of the MILF, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that they were still waiting for the decision from the central committee.
“It’s not yet served. It’s in the discretion of our central committee. But we assure the public that those involved will be given disciplinary actions,” Al Haq said.
“It could be a six-month suspension or termination from our ranks,” he said.
In Davao City, former mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio posted a photo of her head being shaven in honor of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos, killed in combat after neutralizing international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Last year, Carpio shaved her head in anticipation of her father running for president in the 2016 elections.
“Ok lang mamatay para sa bansa kung sinabi sa iyo ang katotohanan kung bakit kelangan mo mamatay (It’s okay to die for your country only if you were told why you needed to die),” Duterte-Carpio wrote on her Facebook page, echoing what most people felt was an unnecessary loss of lives and what authorities called the unprecedented number of law enforcers killed in one operation.
“I dedicate another #kalbo and another year of my profile pictures in FB, Instagram and Twitter to the 44 men who bravely faced death to keep us safe and secure in our daily lives,” she wrote, as she posted a picture of her, holding her phone, while being shaved in a parlor. (Reports filed by Jeoffrey Maitem, Nash Maulana, Edwin O. Fernandez and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao). SFM
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.