MANILA – According to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 225-page report, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) combatants and other private armed groups continued to shoot the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) police commandos even when the latter had already surrendered in their encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province early this year.
“It was murder all the way and around,” the DOJ report said, clarifying that the incident was neither a massacre nor a misencounter.
The DOJ then recommended multiple charges of murder against 90 Moro rebels and private armed men for the death of 35 SAF troopers from the 55th Special Action Company (SAC), who raised their hands in surrender but were still shot in the clash in Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano.
The incident with the other nine SAF commandos from the 84th SAC killed in Pidsandawan village also in Mamasapano, on the other hand, is still being investigated on.
The DOJ also suggested charges of theft of government possession against the 90 suspects. If the charges are filed, however, the ongoing peace process may be jeopardized.
“After the fight, MILF elements crossed the river over to the cornfield to finish off the dying members of the 55th SAC… by means of gunshots to the head and other parts of their bodies,” the report said.
The DOJ, however, acknowledged that it was the SAF troopers who fired first, resulting to the gunfight. The MILF, BIFF and other armed groups then banded together in pursuit of the policemen.
“There was a conspiracy among the MILF, BIFF and [private armed group] elements to kill the 55th SAC commandos. This conspiracy took the form of the phenomenon that is called pintakasi. The MILF, BIFF and [private armed group] elements were impelled by a common intention, and banded together against the 55th SAC to kill and wipe out the [policemen],” the report said, adding that only one SAF police commando survived.
The MILF, for their part, claimed that their combatants involved in the incident only acted in self-defense. They insisted that the SAF troopers trespassed in their territory amidst the agreed ceasefire in the peace talks. Their fighters, then, were not liable for the ‘misencounter.’
The BIFF, on the other hand, vowed that their combatants would never submit to the government’s criminal justice system.
“They always fire charges against us but they actually have not arrested anyone,” BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama said, adding that the government is only wasting its time on the charges.