Mamasapano: Murder charges vs 5 MILF commanders, 83 others

MANILA, Philippines – For the killing of 35 elite police forces in Mamapasano in January 2015, the  Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, August 15, ordered the filing of murder charges against 5 commanders and 83 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other armed groups. 

The MILF commanders were identified as Commanders Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan, Commander Rakman (118TH MILF), Commander Refy Guiaman, Commander Anife, and Commander Haumves alias Haves, operations commander of the 105th MILF Base Command.

In a 55-page resolution, DOJ's investigating panel ordered the filing of complex crime of direct assault with murder against the 5 and 83 others who belonged to the MILF and other armed groups that battled with the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force in Mamasapano in January 2016.

The botched anti-terror operation, which almost scuttled the peace process between the Aquino administration and the MILF, caused the killing of 44 police commandos. 

The SAF mounted the secret operation without coordinating with the MILF and other government authorities. It triggered the resignation of then PNP chief Alan Purisima and caused a sharp drop in the public opinion ratings of then President Benigno Aquino III.

Excludes 9 from Searborne Company

The DOJ case however involves only the killing of the 35 and excludes the death of the 9 SAF commandos of the 84th Seaborne Company, because the probe failed to get any evidence that could pin down who shot the 9 dead, the DOJ panel said. 

It was the 84th Seaborne Company that attacked the hut of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, during the raid. (READ: Timeline: Mamasapano clash)

In the case of the 35 SAF forces, the panel said: “We find the statements of the witnesses communicated a credible account on the occurrences they perceived on that indelible day of Jan. 25, 2015. Their categorical statements augur well for a finding of probable cause for direct assault with murder.”

The DOJ added: “Positive identification of a person being implicated in a crime, when categorical, resounding, consistent and without any ill motive on the part of the eyewitnesses testifying on the matter is given credence. Considering such positive identification of these respondents as direct participants in the commission o the crime of direct assault with murder, they should be indicted,” it added.

“Cruelty is clearly present in this case as the witnesses stated they saw and heard respondents shouting and laughing while shooting at the embattled SAF troopers who were clearly pinned down in the cornfield,” the resolution stated.

The members of the panel that investigated the incident were Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Roseanne Elepaño-Balauag, Rassendell Rex F. Gingoyon, Benito Oliver Sales III, Assistant State Prosecutors Aldrin P. Evangelista and Alexander Suarez.

Their recommendation was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano. – Rappler.com