MANILA — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday dismissed claims that there was no forthcoming help from military units in Maguindanao during the bloody encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members Sunday.
He also said that the request for assistance come around 5 a.m. or 30 minutes after the SAF’s first encounter with Marwan (Malaysian terror bomber Zulkifli bin Hir) and his escorts at 4: 30 a.m.
However, since 6th Infantry Division units were deployed securing various MSRs (main supply routes) or road nets in military parlance, it took time for the reinforcements to be deployed, as a minimum force is still needed to protect these MSRs from attacks of lawless elements.
Gazmin said that reinforcing units from the 6th Infantry Division, which consists of light armor units and its recon company, managed to make their way near Mamasapano town at 8: 20 a.m.
He attributes this difficulty to to the scanty coordination provided by SAF forces regarding the operation.
Adding to the difficulty is that reinforcing military units have no idea on where the engaged SAF forces and MILF and BIFF are located.
Government forces eventually reached the encounter scene Sunday afternoon.
Gazmin added that coordination is greatly needed in this type of incident considering that SAF forces were entering a major MILF camp close to a known BIFF location.