MILF investigator firm on numbers: 64 dead in massacre; including civilian informants

By , on January 30, 2015


Shutterstock photo
Shutterstock photo

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—The body count of the Mamasapano massacre is 64, and not 44; according to a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) investigator. The MILF representative said on Thursday that those slain in the bloody confrontation between Muslim rebels and commandos of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF) include guides, informants and militiamen.

This is contrary to reports of the PNP, which pegged the casualties at a total of 44; all commandos of the PNP-SAF.

Bruce Antao, from the MILF investigative team told reporters from the Inquirer that 64 bodies were retrieved from the site of the violent skirmish. He explained that he filed two separate reports of the number of casualties to the MILF Central Committee, which is currently investigating the situation.

Antao detailed that based on his reports, 37 bodies were recovered from Sitio Manggapang in Tukanalipao and 27 from Sitio Inunug in Pidsandawan village.

He said that he had already submitted his report when two more bodies were recovered from Kabulnan River, which cuts across the vast cornfield where the gun battle took place.
The investigator also explained that most of the slain were fully or half-dressed in military fatigues, but pointed out that these uniforms were also commonly worn by civilian informants who went along with the PNP-SAF team on their missions.

“Some described them (the civilian informants) as Cafgu (Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit) members, maybe for lack of a better term,” Antao said.

Antao pointed out that many of these bodies were buried immediately, in accordance with Muslim religious custom.

Meanwhile, the MILF investigation is still ongoing. The Aquino administration has likewise formed a Board of Inquiry to conduct a probe into the massacre.

The deplorable slaughter occurred on January 25, when a heavy 11-hour gun battle between government troops and Muslim rebels broke out in a corn field in Tukanalipao village, Mamasapano town, in the province of Maguindanao.

The bodies of 42 of the slain policemen were flown to Manila on Thursday morning, while2 commandos, PO3 Jedz-in A. Asjali and PO2 Amman M. Esmula, were laid to rest on Wednesday in Zamboanga City.

The fallen commandos who were flown to Manila will lie in state at the SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.