MANILA—The Department of Justice (DOJ) wrapped up on Thursday its preliminary investigation on the complex crime of direct assault with murder case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against 90 respondents for the death of the 35 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in a clash in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015.
However, the DOJ panel of investigators refused to give a commitment that a resolution will come out in time for the first year commemoration of the death of the PNP-SAF commandos.
“We cannot give you a definite time frame or period as we will resolve this case… We will resolve this based on the allegations,” Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez told reporters after the Thursday hearing.
The DOJ panel wrapped up its preliminary investigation after the NBI said that it will no longer respond to the counter-affidavits submitted by the respondents.
Out of the 90 respondents, only four have submitted their counter-affidavits.
“They cannot tell actually the reason why they cannot file a counter-affidavit, but we in the panel issued a subpoena for them to participate. As to matter of the decision to submit a counter-affidavit on this case, well, it’s up to them,” Suarez said.
During Thursday’s preliminary investigation, Atty. Carlos Valdez told the DOJ panel that three more respondents just received copies of the complaint that the NBI filed against them.
Valdez identified them as Ronnie Samal, Manny Samal and Hadji Mao.
He said that the copies of the complaint were given to the three through Mamasapano, Maguindanao Mayor Benzar Ampatuan.
Valdez said the three respondents got the services of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) but could not afford to fly to Manila.
Likewise, during the preliminary investigation, the NBI submitted an inventory of recovered firearms and combat equipment, which were allegedly taken from the victims in this case, with corresponding values of these firearms and equipments.
Facing the DOJ investigation are 13 commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and six commanders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
However, the names of the respondents were not made public so as to prevent them from evading possible prosecution.
The complaint against the 90 individuals covers only the death of 35 members of the 55th SAF company that engaged MILF and BIFF elements and private armed groups (PAGs) in the cornfields of Barangay Tukanalipao, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015.
The 90 individuals were accused of acting “in conspiracy with one another to attack, employ force, seriously intimidate or resist the 35 SAF commandos, who were uniformed police officers and, thus persons in authority.” (PNA)