MANILA, Philippines – The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s (CIDG) initial medico-legal report on the 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) police commandos killed in the Mamasapano clash on January 25 revealed that 27of the 44 slain troopers were shot in the head.
Of the 44 slain elite police, nine were shot in the head; 18 suffered gunshot wounds in the head, trunk and extremities; and 17 sustained gunshot wounds in the trunk and extremities.
Police Senior Inspectors Ryan Pabalinas, Gebnat Tabdi, Cyrus Anniban, John Gary Erana and Police Inspector Joey Gamutan all received fatal gunshot wounds in the head. Only Police Senior Inspector Max Jim Tria was spared from the gruesome headshots but still sustained wounds in his extremities.
The ‘Fallen 44’ were among the 392 PNP-SAF commandos deployed in a police operation targeted to the arrest of international terrorist Zulkifi bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” who was believed to be staying in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province. Marwan was killed but the troop also lost some men as they were caught in a bloody encounter with the Moro Islamic Federation Font (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina questioned the manner in which the policemen were killed, referring to it as an ‘overkill.’
“Forty four of my men from SAF were killed in a brutal and merciless fashion. They were killed in a legit police operation to arrest a terrorist who continued to be a threat to peace-loving citizens,” he said while testifying on a Mamasapano probe hearing.
CIDG public information officer Police Chief Inspector Elizabeth Jasmin said that the protective vests of three policemen might have been removed before they were shot in the body as their autopsy report showed gunshot wounds in the middle portion of their trunks.
“In the case of Police Officer 1 (Joseph) Sagonoy who was identified later as the one being shot in a video that went viral on social media, medico-legal examination showed that the victim sustained injuries in the lower left thigh, and two fatal shots were inflicted in the head,” she said.
“Results indicate that the victim was shot at close range with a pistol about 60 cm to at least a couple of meters from the point of entry,” she added, also mentioning that a slug of a 9-mm caliber handgun was recovered from the victim’s brain.
The said video, which circulated on social networking site Facebook, showed Sagonoy still conscious when he was shot at close range by unidentified armed men.
The PNP anticybercrime group has already been tracking the computer used in the uploading of the controversial video.
With report from Cyra Moraleda