MANILA — The Board of Inquiry (BOI), tasked by the Philippine National Police (PNP), to look into the bloody clash which resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) pledged to complete and release its report by Feb. 26.
This was stressed Tuesday by BOI chair Director Benjamin Magalong, also the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, in a statement Tuesday.
Other members of the BOI include Director Catalino Rodriquez and Chief Supt. John Sosito.
Magalong gave an assurance that the BOI will be truthful and transparent in their investigation.
“There will be no let-up in the inquiry. With the support of the CIDG and IAS (Internal Affairs Services) we will continue taking depositions, identifying and locating other witnesses that can provide additional information on the incident,” he said.
Upon the creation of the BOI, Magalong created a five-man operational audit team (OAT) which was composed of senior and middle grade PNP officers who are knowledgeable in the conduct of SAF and PNP operations.
The team is composed of Senior Supt. Robert Po as the team leader, and Senior Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa, Senior Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Senior Supt. Benigno Duran, and Chief Insp. David Joy Duarte.
As this develops, Magalong said the BOI has employed 46 investigators from different CIDG regional offices in the ongoing investigation.
These police officers have already spent 5,152 man-hours since the creation of the BOI last Jan. 26.
Magalong said these men were deployed to secure the affidavits of PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines officers who directly participated and provided support in the SAF operation.
He also stated that out of the 348 personnel from the SAF, 302 have signed and submitted their sworn statements while 42 officers are yet to provide their affidavits.
To date, all of the 14 key players from the AFP side have given their respective statements but seven remain unsigned.
Of the four key personalities of the Government of the Philippines Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH CCCH), all have executed their statements except for one .
“The BOI has yet to take the sworn affidavits of three key personalities from MILF-CCCH (Moro Islamic Liberation Froont Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities) and PRO-ARMM (Police Regional Office Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao) personnel,” Magalong disclosed.
The OAT is utilizing a framework that captures the process that the SAF went through from mission planning to mission execution and termination.
The team has outlined in detail the activities involved in the audit process, including the conduct of interviews of key personalities according to their participation in the operation.
In its initial report presented on Feb. 9 , the BOI presented the facts and circumstances during the Mamasapano incident and also the facts surrounding the coordination between the PNP and AFP during the SAF law enforcement operation.
Oplan Exodus, which resulted in the neutralization of Marwan, was the main subject of the BOI.
This plan spelled out the employment of 392 SAF troopers assigned to 12 different operating groups for the mission.
One group was assigned as the main effort, four groups as support effort, two groups as blocking forces, and two groups for route security.
Meanwhile, an advance command post and a tactical command post was established for command and control.
The BOI illustrated that the area of operations that the SAF operatives had to contend with was unfavorable — a marshland criss-crossed rivers, wide open cornfields and irrigation canals. The Board also ascertained the significant presence and estimated strength of various armed groups in the area. In contrast, the government forces were described to be limited, reporting that only five municipal police stations in the area.
As to the details of the strategic, operational and tactical procedures during the operation, the BOI made comparisons of the operation versus the actual operation, based on the interviews and sworn statements of the operatives involved.
As a result, the board ascertained that there was a gap between the plan and the actual operation.
Except for the 84th SAC (Seaborne Unit), the other units did not reach their designated positions.
The movement of the Seaborne took about two hours longer than planned; they were delayed by the difficult terrain and the strong rivers current near the target.
The departure of the support groups, including the 55th SAC, were delayed because the plan called for synchronization of their movement with that of the Seaborne. Notwithstanding the delays, the Seaborne was still able to reach its objective and neutralize Marwan.
As soon as the security situation in Mamasapano permits, Magalong stated that the BOI will visit the area of operation.
He laid emphasis on primary data that can be acquired through a site survey, which he said will immensely contribute in reconstructing the events and analyzing the actions and decisions of the SAF commanders and team leaders involved in the operation.