MANILA — An 8-minute video of the aftermath of the Mamasapano siege from January has been making rounds online.
The video showed one of the casualties who looked like a Caucasian male soldier. The people taking the video were speaking in their native dialect and in English, but referred to the Caucasian-looking man as “Buddy.”
‘No Americans or foreigners in Mamasapano seige’
Former Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio Napeñas vehemently denied any and all alleged participation of foreigners in the Mamasapano operation, which killed international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias ‘Marwan’ and 63 others, including 44 SAF commandos.
In an interview with INQUIRER radio, Napeñas said, “Unang-una--I will say it again–walang foreigner or Americans na nag-participate or namatay sa combat operation… Isa-isa na winithdraw iyan galing sa field at isa-isa na inautopsy ‘yan ng crime laboratory. It would be impossible na hindi nila malaman kung ano nga ba ang nationality ng tao na namatay na 44.”
(First of all–I will say it again–no foreigner or Americans participated or died in the combat operation. They were individually extracted from the field and separately autopsied by the crime laboratory. It would be impossible not to know the nationality of the 44 casualties.)
The U.S. Embassy has also released statements in the past denying claims that American soldiers–one blue-eyed man and another African-American man–were killed in Mamasapano. According to Napeñas, the Caucasian-looking man could be PO2 Romeo Cempron of SAF.
“Iyan ‘yung lumabas na picture din noon, si PO2 Cempron… Caucasian-looking na tao iyan. Inadmit na namin noon pa na may isang tao kami na Caucasian-looking, si PO2 Cempron nga ‘yun,” Napeñas said.
(That’s the photo that appeared in the past. PO2 Cempron looked Caucasian. We’ve already admitted in the past that we have a soldier who looks Caucasian and that’s PO2 Cempron.)
Napeñas also pointed out that the term “buddy” is used in the military to refer to one soldier’s assigned partner or “buddy” in a mission, or simply the term one uses to refer to their companion.
For those who continue to spread rumors and claims of foreigners’ involvement in the Mamasapano seige in January 25, 2015, Napeñas says, “Kung meron man ‘yung mga tao na nagke-claim na Amerikano kung ano-anong nationality, ilabas na lang nila ang ebidensya–ang witness nila at ebidensya.”
(If there’s anyone claiming [that those who died were] American or whatever nationality, they should show the evidence–their witness and evidence.)
DOJ weighs in
According to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, the authenticity of the video should be established first.
“Let’s take a look at that. If that video is authentic, next question is Caucasian ba talaga?” De Lima said in an ABS-CBN report. “Mahirap gumawa ng kung ano-anong mga conclusions, mga speculations na ‘yan. ‘Yun ba talaga hitsurang puti, hitsurang Caucasian? Pwede naman na Pilipino na mestizo, it can be that.”
(It’s hard to jump into conclusions or speculations. If you have fair skin, does that mean you look Caucasian? It could also be a Filipino mestizo, it can be that.)
De Lima reiterated that foreign troops are not allowed to participate in military operations within the Philippines, but she also said that there’s no harm in investigating the matter to verify the authenticity of “information and leads.”