A concerned citizen, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, turned over a Kevlar helmet with two bullet holes, a ballistic plate for bulletproof vest and a two-way handheld radio to the Maguindanao police on Sunday.
The said equipments were used by the slain Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos in the gruesome encounter with Moro rebels in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province last month.
According to the unidentified civilian, he surrendered the items to their provincial police after hearing the calls of PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.
“Pakiusap ko lang sa MILF, isauli ninyo ang mga gamit namin. That’s ours. Pinatay niyo na ang mga tao namin. Huwag niyo nang dagdagan,” Espina said last week, appealing for the return of the PNP-SAF firearms, mobile phones and other equipments.
(I’m requesting the MILF to return our equipments. That’s ours. You already killed our men. Don’t kill more of them.)
Maguindanao police commander Senior Superintendent Rodelio Jocson appreciated the concerned citizen’s gesture and hoped that more firearms and equipments of the killed PNP-SAF elite police will also be turned over.
“He was a farmer living in Barangay Tukanalipao. The civilian said he recovered the items [in their barangay] after the encounter on January 25. I am hoping that the firearms of fallen 44 will be turned over to us soon,” Jocson said, calling other villagers to do the same.
The police also urged the Moro Islamic Liberation Font (MILF) to hand over the PNP-SAF firearms and equipments they retrieved from the bloody clash. They believed that at least ten rifles were in the possession of the rebel group.
MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal had earlier gave his word that they will surrender firearms and equipments currently in their hold.
“The MILF has decided to return the firearms and any retrievable personal effects of the fallen SAF-PNP in deference to the peace process and the recognition of the MILF that it never wanted that unfortunate incident on January 25, this was the first time since 2011 that a firefight happened,” Iqbal said in a letter read during a Mamasapano probe hearing.
The Maguindanao police will then hand over the retrieved items to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
With report from Cyra Moraleda