MILF, BIFF suffer 250 casualties during Mamasapano encounter –Napenas

By , on February 9, 2015


Sacked SAF Chief Getulio Pascual Napenas (center) at the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash (Photo courtesy of Sen. Grace Poe's Facebook page)
Sacked SAF Chief Getulio Pascual Napenas (in blue uniform) at the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash (Photo courtesy of Sen. Grace Poe’s Facebook page)

MANILA – Relieved Philippine National Action-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) chief Supt. Getulio Pascual Napenas said on Monday the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamo Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) suffered at least 250 casualties during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

”And yes, madams and sirs, you heard it right. Not less than 250 casualties on the side of the combined forces of the MILF, BIFF and other private armed groups,” Napenas told the Senate inquiry into the bloody Mamasapano incident.

Napenas said he based his estimate from the statement of Police Supt. Raymond Train and PO2 Christopher Lalan, two of the survivors in the whole day firefight between the combined troopers of the 84th and 55th companies of the SAF and the MILF and BIFF elements.

The sacked SAF chief said Train, the overall commander of the 84th company assault force, told him that he was able to shoot down 25 to 30 of the attackers.

”According to him, it is also safe to say that the entire Assault Force, the 84th Company, was able to shoot down at least 150 of the enemies,” Napenas told the Senate inquiry attended by at least 13 senators led by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Napenas said Lalan, the lone survivor of the 55th Company, also told him that at least 100 members of the combined MILF and BIFF forces were taken down by SAF troopers from his company.

”The 84th and 55th companies which took part in Oplan Exodus also has two and six snipers, respectively, under their helm. For sure, these highly-trained snipers could have shot down on the average at least 20 each from the attackers,” Napenas said.

He said his estimate did not include those taken down by other SAF troopers from the 45th, 42nd and 41st companies who were likewise engaged in the firefight.

”In other words, had the artillery support we requested arrived on time, the situation would have been entirely different, though I admit, it may not have guaranteed zero-casualty on our part,” Napenas said.

The 392-member SAF contingent suffered 44 dead and 15 wounded in the firefight that took place when the SAF troopers executed ‘Oplan Exodus’ aimed at capturing two high-value targets, terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman.

Marwan, prime suspect in the Bali bombing that killed 202 people and other bombings in Mindanao, was killed in the operation while Usman, also a bomb-making expert like Marwan and a BIFF commander, escaped.

With the killing of Marwan, Napenas called the operation ‘mission accomplished.’

”Only that it happened with a high price: The lives of 44 brave young men,” he said.

Napenas said he started working directly against Marwan and Usman as early as 2010.

Napenas said he supervised the operations against Marwan in July 2012 in Butig, Lanao del Sur but the latter managed to escape just a few minutes before SAF troops arrived.

He said former Police Supt. (retired) Noel delos Reyes, former deputy director for intelligence, knew how Marwan managed to escape.

Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero moved to invite Delos Reyes in the next hearing.

Napenas said he again supervised the operations called “Oplan Wolverine” on April 25, 2014 to get Marwan but it was unfortunately aborted after the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army withdrew its commitment to provide mechanized brigade units to support the operations.

On May 30, 2014, another operation in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was launched but also aborted due to heavy armed groups’ activity in the target area.

Barely 10 days later, the Philippine Army’s 6th ID mechanized brigade conducted its own operation without coordination from the SAF but they failed to neutralize Marwan and Usman.

”These are just few of the reasons why in the succeeding operations, the coordination with the AFP will be time-on-target of the arresting force, in order to avoid the possibility that our operation would be compromised,” Napenas said.

Napenas, however, clarified that he was not blaming the AFP why the information and preparations of operations seemed to have been leaked whenever they went out against high-value targets.