PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

SENATORS SLAM CHR's REJECTION OF MAMASAPANO DEBACLE AS A 'MASSACRE'
(REPORT DRIVEN BY EMOTION)


POE  SENATORS Grace Poe and Francis Escudero debunked Monday the assertions of Human Rights Commissioner Loretta Ann P. Rosales that the Senate findings on the Mamasapano operation in which 44 police commandos were killed was driven by emotions.  The Senate report, which was signed by 20 senators, found that President Benigno Aquino III was ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano fiasco that claimed the lives of 66 people, including 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians. In a text message to reporters Monday, Poe said “the committee report was based primarily on the testimonies of resource persons given under oath, as well as documents and reports submitted officially. The executive summary of the report cites testimony of 37 resource persons during five public hearings and five executive sessions, and 4,300 documents presented to her committee. Reacting to Rosales’ rejection of the term “massacre” to describe the Mamasapano incident, Poe said this referred to “the excessive force and ignominy which attended the finishing touches inflicted on the SAF troopers when they were already gravely injured but breathing as they lay defenseless on the Mamasapano cornfields.”

“A contrary view of the CHR chairman notwithstanding, we welcome her submission of the CHR report on its own investigation of the incident which may still be considered on amendments,” Poe added. Escudero, on the other hand, rebuked Rosales for implying that only civilians have human rights. “I do not know where Chairperson Rosales is coming from,” said Escudero.. “But I have one question for her: Don’t police and soldiers have human rights that are covered by the commission? Are civilians the only ones with human rights?” he asked. He also insisted that what happened was clearly a massacre. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO BOI head: Trillanes was misinformed; his claim of drunk SAF operatives not true
("Nagkaroon ng fellowship, but SAF personnel were not involved," Magalong clarified, without elaborating.)


BOI CHIEF The head of the Board of Inquiry says Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV's claim that a police intelligence officer made the Mamasapano operatives drunk had already been found untrue. A police official on Tuesday belied claims of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that the Special Action Force got their counterparts in the Philippine Army drunk to exclude them from the January 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.  Director Benjamin Magalong, head of the Philippine National Police's Board of Inquiry and chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the senators may have been misinformed. "I believe that Senator Trillanes was misinformed. We have already investigated that allegation. There is no truth to it," Magalong said. He also denied that some SAF troopers involved in the Mamasapano operation joined the supposed drinking spree. "Nagkaroon ng fellowship, but SAF personnel were not involved," Magalong clarified, without elaborating. REA MORE...

ALSO MILF MAMASAPANO REPORT: MILF justifies SAF 44 slay


File photo  
MANILA, Philippines - The police commandos fired first and broke a ceasefire, they used dead comrades as shields, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did not coddle two top terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. These are among the points raised in the report that the MILF finally submitted to the Senate yesterday, in which the rebel group effectively justified the killing of 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and the looting of their firearms, equipment and personal effects on Jan. 25. The MILF report was submitted to the office of Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs which investigated the Mamasapano incident. While admitting the use of the high-powered Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle, the MILF insisted that no unnecessary force or methods against international rules on warfare were used, and the MILF fighters used “their advantages to the fullest.” “Reports about mutilation, beheading and willful killing are unfounded,” the report stated. Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the report, based on the findings of the rebel group’s special investigating commission formed to look into the encounter, was submitted upon Poe’s request. READ MORE...

ALSO: MILF absolves self, blames SAF in report


The much-sought Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) report on the Mamasapano incident read a lot like President Aquino’s speeches that basically washed his hands off from involve-ment in the Jan.25 bloodbath, as the MILF ab-solved itself and threw the blame on the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The report was submitted yesterday to the Senate but only after Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. warned that deliberations on the proposed law to create the Bangsamoro substate of the MILF will not resume until the MILF submits a full report on the incident. The MILF said in its report the action of some of their fighters was a necessary retaliation to the operation launched by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. The PNP-SAF did not make any prior coordination and did not follow ceasefire mechanisms as provided under the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the peace panels. In the 35-page report initially submitted to the head of mission of the International Monitoring Team in Cotabato City, the MILF also disputed the charges that they served as haven for known terrorists Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman.
The report incredibly dumped all the blame on the SAF for the incident and charged the elite police unit of violating the ceasefire agreement and committing human rights abuses. In the report, the MILF called its combatants as members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and were absolved of almost every offense in the massacre of the 44 members of the SAF after the policemen killed Malaysian terrorist Marwan.CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Senate panel stands by Mamasapano report


Sen. Grace Poe commended the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for completing their investigation on the Mamasapano incident and providing the Senate with a copy of the report. Senate PRIB/Romy Bugante 
MANILA, Philippines - The Senate stands by its own report on the Mamasapano tragedy even after the release of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's own findings, Sen. Grace Poe said.  Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, noted that the Senate's joint committee report has been backed by 20 senators. Amendments, meanwhile, can be proposed and may be considered once the session resumes in May. "How the MILF report should be treated, considering certain findings of fact which are contradictory to a portion of ours, shall also be discussed by the joint committees," Poe said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino playing safe in not apologizing, says Santiago
(
“The truth should have been released immediately the moment that the crisis began brewing. Immediately, the President should have by himself told the truth to the Filipino public,” she told reporters when asked about the President’s refusal to apologize for the Mamasapano operation.)


Santiago said the President should have immediately told the truth to the public the moment the Mamasapano crisis began brewing. 
President Benigno Aquino III, in his refusal to apologize for the Mamasapano incident, is avoiding any criminal or civil liability after his term ends in 2016, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Wednesday. Santiago said the President should have immediately told the truth to the public the moment the Mamasapano crisis began brewing. “The truth should have been released immediately the moment that the crisis began brewing. Immediately, the President should have by himself told the truth to the Filipino public,” she told reporters when asked about the President’s refusal to apologize for the Mamasapano operation. “There’s a question of well if that’s the truth, why are you not apologizing? The answer is because he (Aquino) wants to avoid any liability arising from a confession after his term ends in 2016,” the senator said. “Remember that after he’s no longer president, he becomes liable to all manner of suits. He loses immunity from suit both civil and criminal so he’s afraid that if he apologizes in effect some courts might consider that that is a confession admissible in law and in effect therefore he will be his own worse witness. That’s why he does not want to apologize. He wants to evade any criminal or even civil liability after 2016,” she added. Santiago was one of the 20 senators who signed a Senate draft report that found the President responsible, among others, for the January 25 Mamasapano operation that left 44 elite policemen dead. The report has yet to be discussed in the plenary when Congress resumes its session in May. ID THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

 ALSO EARLIER REPORT: Aquino apology is necessary


Benigno Aquino III 
What makes it so hard for President Benigno Aquino III to apologize for the botched Mamasapano operation? One might wonder why even some bishops, who have moral authority over him (P-Noy happens to be a member of their flock), have joined the call of Senators Sergio Osmena III and JV Ejercito for him to issue an apology to that effect—a call he continues to ignore. Could it be because by doing so, President Aquino “could create a legal liability,” the same reason he gave in rejecting Hong Kong’s demand that he apologize for the 2010 hostage crisis in Luneta (“P-Noy rejects suggestions to issue apology to HK,” News, 2/6/14)?  Nonetheless, any which way we look at it, it appears that P-Noy is accountable, hence he cannot evade legal liability over the Mamasapano operation. Why? READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Senators slam CHR’s rejection of Mamasapano incident as a 'massacre"


POE

MANILA, MARCH 23, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz | Mar. 24, 2015 at 12:01am - SENATORS Grace Poe and Francis Escudero debunked Monday the assertions of Human Rights Commissioner Loretta Ann P. Rosales that the Senate findings on the Mamasapano operation in which 44 police commandos were killed was driven by emotions.

The Senate report, which was signed by 20 senators, found that President Benigno Aquino III was ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano fiasco that claimed the lives of 66 people, including 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians.

In a text message to reporters Monday, Poe said “the committee report was based primarily on the testimonies of resource persons given under oath, as well as documents and reports submitted officially.

The executive summary of the report cites testimony of 37 resource persons during five public hearings and five executive sessions, and 4,300 documents presented to her committee.

Reacting to Rosales’ rejection of the term “massacre” to describe the Mamasapano incident, Poe said this referred to “the excessive force and ignominy which attended the finishing touches inflicted on the SAF troopers when they were already gravely injured but breathing as they lay defenseless on the Mamasapano cornfields.”

“A contrary view of the CHR chairman notwithstanding, we welcome her submission of the CHR report on its own investigation of the incident which may still be considered on amendments,” Poe added.

Escudero, on the other hand, rebuked Rosales for implying that only civilians have human rights.

“I do not know where Chairperson Rosales is coming from,” said Escudero..

“But I have one question for her: Don’t police and soldiers have human rights that are covered by the commission? Are civilians the only ones with human rights?” he asked.

He also insisted that what happened was clearly a massacre.

CONTINUE READING...
The dictionary defines massacre as “the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty.”

“That’s exactly how it happened to our SAF men in Mamasapano, unless our CHR defines it in another [way],” Escudero said.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, acknowledged that emotions had a role in the report, but said it was fair and objective.

“We’re just human, and all the senators have different perceptions on the what happened, he said. “It’s difficult to say that we should not be emotional about those killed.”

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said that emotion might have crept into the writing of the draft report.

“Probably, they wanted to present other things that would make people happy and the media people happy. But as I said, we’re not here for that. We’re not here to entertain everyone,” said Trillanes, a staunch defender of President Aquino.

Over the weekend, Rosales assailed the Senate report, saying it was “mostly based on emotions rather than an objective interpretation of facts.”

She also said calling the incident a “massacre” was “excessive.”

Twenty senators signed the 129-page draft report of Poe’s committee, which led the investigation together with Escudero’s finance committee and the peace, unification and reconciliation committee, chaired Senator Teofisto Guingona III.

Thirteen of the 20 senators have expressed reservations and manifested their intent to propose amendments, strong recommendations and to supplement the report with their own opinions on the outcome of the Senate probe.

In the House, administration and opposition lawmakers alike slammed Rosales for her “insensitive remarks.”

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House minority, dismissed Rosales’ claims as “fatuous and senseless.”

“Her comments have no basis in law and facts,” Bello said. “To my mind, the Senate, [and even the Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry] reports are more exhaustive,” Bello said.

Bello said Rosales’ appreciation of the Senate report did not seem to help in the quest for justice for the Fallen 44 and their families.

“She should stick to her mandate: protection of human rights,” Bello, a former peace negotiator and former Justice secretary, said.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, also an opposition member, said the public could not expect any statement from Rosales critical of the government because she belongs to the Akbayan party-list, an ally of the administration.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, a member of the House independent minority bloc, defended the Senate findings.

“I do not know where Chair [Rosales] got her facts or whether she has really read the Senate report. But from our own reading, it is clear that the Senate got the facts straight, stripped away the non-essentials of the findings, and conclusions were unemotionally stated and respectful, even specially the part about President Aquino’s role and accountability,” de la Cruz said.

De la Cruz said Rosales’ assessment of the Senate report and her siding with the MILF and the government peace panel were the result of her being “blinded by her attachment to the powers that be... and the demagogic peace at all costs mantra.”

Administration allies, Reps. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list and Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental expressed disgust over Rosales’ apparent bias.

Alejano said that in the past, even when soldiers were beheaded by Muslim rebels, the CHR never complained about human rights violations.

Benitez chided Rosales for objecting to the word “massacre.”

“Twenty-six soldiers shot in the head at close range. What do you call that?” he said.


PHILSTAR

BOI head: Trillanes was misinformed; his claim on drunk SAF operatives  not true in  probe By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated March 24, 2015 - 11:39am


BOI CHIEF The head of the Board of Inquiry says Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV's claim that a police intelligence officer made the Mamasapano operatives drunk had already been found untrue.

MANILA, Philippines - A police official on Tuesday belied claims of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that the Special Action Force got their counterparts in the Philippine Army drunk to exclude them from the January 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Director Benjamin Magalong, head of the Philippine National Police's Board of Inquiry and chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the senators may have been misinformed.

"I believe that Senator Trillanes was misinformed. We have already investigated that allegation. There is no truth to it," Magalong said.

He also denied that some SAF troopers involved in the Mamasapano operation joined the supposed drinking spree.

"Nagkaroon ng fellowship, but SAF personnel were not involved," Magalong clarified, without elaborating.

READ MORE...
Trillanes claimed that a PNP intelligence officer got some of the operatives involved in Operation Exodus drunk on the eve of Oplan Exodus' implementation.

READ: ‘SAF troopers got Army soldiers drunk before Mamasapano raid’

The operation plan is aimed at neutralizing Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino terror bomber Basit Usman.

The SAF troopers were able to neutralize Marwan, but 44 of them were killed in the ensuing gunbattle with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.


PHILSTAR

MILF justifies SAF 44 slay By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 25, 2015 - 12:00am


File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The police commandos fired first and broke a ceasefire, they used dead comrades as shields, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did not coddle two top terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

These are among the points raised in the report that the MILF finally submitted to the Senate yesterday, in which the rebel group effectively justified the killing of 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and the looting of their firearms, equipment and personal effects on Jan. 25.

The MILF report was submitted to the office of Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs which investigated the Mamasapano incident.

While admitting the use of the high-powered Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle, the MILF insisted that no unnecessary force or methods against international rules on warfare were used, and the MILF fighters used “their advantages to the fullest.”

“Reports about mutilation, beheading and willful killing are unfounded,” the report stated.

Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the report, based on the findings of the rebel group’s special investigating commission formed to look into the encounter, was submitted upon Poe’s request.

READ MORE...
He added that the report was also submitted to Maj. Gen. Dato Sheik Mokhsin Sheik Hassan, head of mission of the International Monitoring Team in Cotobato City last March 22.

“We trust that this report is treated with fairness, and we hope that all the information provided therein will be helpful in your evaluation of the incident,” Iqbal said in the transmittal letter to the Senate.

The MILF’s special investigative commission was headed by Said Abdulsalam, with Hussein Munoz, Toks Ebrahim, Von Al Haq and Abu Ubaidah Agkong as members.

The investigative commission interviewed field commanders involved in the incident, relatives of the alleged victims and verified information in the field.

The SAF troopers launched the operation to get Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman in Mamasapano.

The commandos killed Marwan but Usman escaped.

SAF troopers later clashed with MILF rebels, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups that resulted in the death of 44 policemen, 18 rebels and five civilians.

In the 35-page report submitted to the Senate, the MILF justified the move to fire at the SAF troopers because the rebels were attacked by the 55th Special Action Company.

The report said without prior coordination, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the MILF did not know that the forces in Sitio Amilil were government forces with whom there is a ceasefire agreement.

The MILF could not do anything but fire back after they were fired upon near the wooden bridge, the report read.

Two men were killed instantly in the assault of the SAF troopers.

“Granting, without admitting, that there is any liability on the part of the 105th Co. (MILF) for the violation of the ceasefire, the disciplinary action should be carried out by the MILF,” it added, citing the implementing operational guidelines of the general cessation of hostilities.

The team also declared that the encounter is not an ordinary crime but a direct armed confrontation between the parties that have signed a ceasefire agreement.

“As to the matter of liability for commission of acts that are violative of international humanitarian law, there is no evidence that would show this,” the team said.

The evidence maintained that the MILF was not responsible for the acts but, apparently, the BIFF.

The team also recommended that the MILF should even file a protest for the violation of the ceasefire by the SAF.

“Without the coordination, the gun battle was inevitable when two armed groups crossed paths, especially after the BIAF was fired upon by the PNP-SAF,” the report read.

They also want Police Officer 2 Christopher Lalan to be probed after the team found out that the SAF commando killed four combatants who were sleeping in a makeshift mosque in Baragay Tukanalipao, a day after the bloody carnage with the SAF troopers.

The group cited international law where the MILF would be considered “hors de combat” as they were not in the position to assault Lalan.

It also cited possible violations of the prior additional protocol of the Geneva Convention of Aug. 12, 1945 and related provisions of the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts.

A person is classified as “hors de combat” if he is in the power of an adverse party; clearly expresses an intention to surrender or he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds, sickness and so incapable of defending himself.

The MILF probe team also justified the taking of so-called spoils of the war.

“While taking of war booties is justified in international law, in the interest of peace, these were returned to the government. It should also be noted that other armed groups and ordinary civilians took the firearms and other personal effects of the killed SAF,” it added.

“Hence, the MILF can only return those that were taken by the combatants,” it added.

Superior number

“The superior number of MILF forces, familiarity with the terrain, coupled with their high caliber firearms, gave the MILF forces advantage and they eventually subdued the 55th SAC,” the report said.

The gunfight “waned at around 1300H (1 p.m.), some of the BIAF forces went inside the cornfield where the 55th SAC were positioned purposely to retrieve the dead bodies of their comrades to comply with the Islamic tradition to bury the dead within 24 hours,” the report added.

It took 20 minutes for the MILF rebels to retrieve the bodies of their comrades.

In the process, the suspects – numbering about 100 MILF men – also took the “opportunity to collect war booties.”

At this time, 17 MILF members were killed in the exchange of gunfire.

Some of the fatalities were identified as Sueb Kamod, Nasrudib Saptula, Abdulrahman Abdullah and Esmail, Kaharodin Baluno Mahmod Saga and Salahudin Camin.

The fighting supposedly stopped after the MILF men received a call from 105th Co. commander Zacaria Goma informing them about the imposition of a ceasefire.

Goma also ordered the MILF combatants to pull out from the area, read the report, which did not directly name the group leader who was involved in the encounter with the 55th SAC.

As the MILF was withdrawing from the site, it was noted in the report that the 55th SAC commandos’ bodies “were found underneath one another as if purposely piled.”

“They noticed that the dead bodies sustained multiple gunshot wounds. They realized later from the position of the dead and the number of wounds of some 55th SAC men that some of them had used the bodies of their dead comrades as shield during the intense fighting,” the report read, which was lifted from statements of the MILF rebels involved in the encounter.

It also mentioned that while the MILF withdrew from Sitio Amilil, the combatants recognized armed men from the BIFF moving towards the encounter site.

The MILF findings contradicted the Senate’s, where the 44 slain members of the 55th SAC and the 84th Seaborne were said to have been “massacred” by the gunmen.

The Special Investigating Team also reported that four MILF men identified as Musib Kasim, Mamarisa Sandigan, Rasul Kamsa and Norhamid Angkay were killed a day after the encounter while in a small mosque locally called “langgal.”

According to witness Melgar Sailila, he and the four men went back to his house in Amilil after the firefight. They rested after lunch, and prayed in the langgal at about noon.

At about 1 p.m. they were attacked by a SAF member later identified through photographs as PO2 Lalan.

At around 2 p.m., Lalan also engaged armed men identified as Sheik Abdullah and Mohammad Ambilang in a firefight.

Ambilang was killed while others escaped, the report said.

Lalan has been tagged at the lone survivor of the 36-member 55th SAC, which served as the blocking force of the 84th Seaborne.

Thirteen members of the Seaborne led by Supt. Raymond Train was the team that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Marwan, who was subject of Operation Plan Exodus.

The MILF report focused on issues of what happened during the encounter with the SAF on Jan. 25. It also looked into the lapses that were committed in heeding the call for ceasefire, as well as whether the MILF violated the Code of Conduct regarding mutilation and desecration of the dead.

It also determined whether or not the MILF committed other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and if the men took the guns and personal effects of the SAF.

It also addressed the question of why the taking of war booty was justified.

The MILF probe team disputed the video showing the killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy of the 55th SAC.

“A scrutiny of the viral video showing the killing of Joseph Sagonoy does not clearly identify the killer as one of the members of the MILF,” it said.

“Even if the allegation that the firearm of Sagonoy is one of the 16 firearms returned by the MILF to the government, this does not prove that the killer of Sagonoy was a BIAF member,” it added.

“The taking of the firearm is different from the act of killing,” the report said, noting further that armed men looted the area after the encounter.

SAF chief issues denial

SAF director Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo, who took over the helm of the elite police unit amid the controversy on the SAF operation, vehemently denied that a SAF officer wined and dined soldiers on the eve of the Mamasapano raid.

Lazo said he conducted his own investigation on the allegations of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that SAF officers invited and treated Army commanders to dinner and drinks on the night of Jan. 24.

“There’s no truth to that,” Lazo told The STAR, referring to Trillanes’ allegation. “Under SAF protocol, troopers are placed on isolation to ensure they are ready for the operation and no information will be leaked.”

Lazo claimed his own investigation proved that no SAF officer went out the night before the SAF mission to arrest Marwan and Usman.

The SAF chief, however, refused to elaborate.

He also noted that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin could have been misinformed when he told the media that a member of the SAF had invited 45th IB commander Lt. Col. Romeo Bautista and 601st Brigade commander Col. Melquiades Feliciano to dinner.

Instead, Lazo urged Trillanes to ask Bautista and Feliciano to identify the officer of the PNP who had dinner with them.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said over P12 million more in donations will be given to the relatives of the SAF commandos who were killed and wounded in the Mamasapano encounter.

The PNP clarified that the donations will be separate from the benefits that the relatives of the 44 slain SAF commandos would receive from the government – a total P66.37 million.

Officials said P34.57 million of the P66.37 million has been given to the families so far, mostly coming from the Presidential Social Fund, the PNP, the National Police Commission and the Public Safety Mutual Benefit Fund Inc.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the P12 million was deposited by well-meaning individuals and groups in a bank account opened by the PNP at the Landbank of the Philippines to help the SAF and their families. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jaime Laude, John Unson


TRIBUNE

MILF absolves self, blames SAF in report Written by Angie M. Rosales Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00

The much-sought Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) report on the Mamasapano incident read a lot like President Aquino’s speeches that basically washed his hands off from involvement in the Jan.25 bloodbath, as the MILF absolved itself and threw the blame on the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The report was submitted yesterday to the Senate but only after Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. warned that deliberations on the proposed law to create the Bangsamoro substate of the MILF will not resume until the MILF submits a full report on the incident.

The MILF said in its report the action of some of their fighters was a necessary retaliation to the operation launched by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. The PNP-SAF did not make any prior coordination and did not follow ceasefire mechanisms as provided under the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the peace panels.

In the 35-page report initially submitted to the head of mission of the International Monitoring Team in Cotabato City, the MILF also disputed the charges that they served as haven for known terrorists Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman.

The report incredibly dumped all the blame on the SAF for the incident and charged the elite police unit of violating the ceasefire agreement and committing human rights abuses.

In the report, the MILF called its combatants as members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and were absolved of almost every offense in the massacre of the 44 members of the SAF after the policemen killed Malaysian terrorist Marwan.

CONTINUE READING...
On the Findings and Recommendations part of the report, the MILF said its members in the BIAF “were justified in fighting back after they were fired upon by the PNP-SAF 55 SAC (SAF Company) in Tukanalipao.”

“Granting without admitting, that there is any liability on the part of the 105BC (MILF command) for the violation of the ceasefire, the disciplinary action should be carried out by the MILF,” it added.
It also said the taking of the weapons and personal effects of the slain SAF commandos was “justified in international law” as the taking of war booties.

“While the taking of war booties is justified in international law, in the interest of peace, these were returned to the Government of the Philippines,” it added.

Instead, the report pinpointed the lone survivor of the massacre of the members of the 55 SAC, P02 Christopher Lalan as having committed human rights violations for the supposed killing of four MILF members.



The report also attributed the bullet-riddled bodies of the slain SAF commandos to what it said was the practice of those who remained alive among the policemen during the encounter of piling up bodies for use as bullet shields. This was vehemently denied by relieved SAF commander Gen, Getulio Napeñas.

The videos also showed it was the MILF that was shooting at a SAF commando and riffling him with bullets even as he was still wounded but alive.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chairman Moahagher Iqbal submitted copies of the 35-page SIC report to the Senate.

”I respectfully submit herewith a copy of the full report of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) investigation on the Mamasapano incident, in response to your request for said transmittal in your letter dated 09 March 2015,” Iqbal said in his letter to Marcos.

Marcos is the chairman of the Senate committee on local government which conducts hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) while Poe is the head of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that held inquiries on the Mamasapano incident.

The MILF first submitted its report to the International Monitoring Team, according to Iqbal.
The report contains the findings and recommendations as well as the narration of facts regarding the bloody encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), and the combined forces of the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

”We trust that this report is treated with fairness, and we hope that all the information provided therein will be helpful in your evaluation of the incident,” Iqbal said.

The bloody encounter has resulted in the killing of 44 SAF commandos as well as 17 Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the MILF and three civilians, according to the MILF report.

The report said the MILF forces were fired upon by the SAF troopers belonging to the 55th Special Action Company, killing two BIAF members Omar Dagadas and Ali Esmael.

The incident triggered a firefight between the BIAF’s 105th Base Command forces and 55th SAC troopers, who are in the area as blocking forces for the assault team of 84th SAC.

”The BIAF members later on construed that the uniformed armed men who attacked them were soldiers of the Philippine Army,” the MILF report said.

In a Senate committee report, 36 of the 37 members of the blocking force 55th SAC have been killed while the remaining eight fatalities from SAF belong to the 84th SAC which carried out the mission to neutralize international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Attached in the MILF report were photos and identification of the 17 dead bodies of the BIAF and of the three civilians killed in the encounter.

The Special Investigative Commitee (SIC) of the MILF also verified that 25 members of the BIAF have been wounded in the firefight.

Since there was no coordination between the government and the MILF through Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), the report said the BIAF cannot be faulted for concluding that the PNP-SAF troopers were enemies.

“Clearly, there was violation of the implementing guidelines of the ceasefire agreement between the GPH and the MILF,” the MILF claimed in its report.

The SIC found also “undisputed facts” that the BIAF forces residing in Mamasapano were not informed of the PNP-SAF operation.



The report also said the reports about mutilation, beheading, and willful killing were “unfounded.”

”The viral video of an armed man shooting at close range a man apparently from the PNP-SAF 55 SAC while the latter was lying down on the ground and already wounded, does not clearly show that it was the BIAF which is responsible for this,” the report said.

The report said the BIFF and the private armed groups (PAGs) could have entered the encounter site after the MILF pulled out of the areas after a ceasefire was affected.

With regard to the taking of firearms and personal effects of the SAF troopers, the report said “this is nothing extraordinary.

The MILF also denied that they coddled Marwan and Basit Usman, the BIFF commander, saying the MILF and the civilian residents in Mamasapano did not know that the two high-profile terrorists were in their community.

”The report said the hut where Marwan was killed is around three kilometers from the Barangay Tukanalipao where the MILF combatants are based,” the report said.

According to the findings, the MILF should file a protest regarding the violation of the ceasefire by the PNP-SAF.

”The coordination that is required under the Operational Guidelines was not undertaken by the GPH. Without the coordination, the gun battle was inevitable when the two armed groups crossed paths, especially after the BIAF was fired upon by the PNP-SAF,” it said.

”The BIAF-MILF forces were categorized as enemy forces by the PNP SAF despite the fact that there is an existing ceasefire agreement,” it added.

Happy hour prior to Exodus

The absence of two key military officers, who were invited to a “happy hour” by their police counterparts on the eve of the launching of Operation Plan (Oplan) “Exodus”, “destroyed” the chain of command in Maguindanao that resulted in confusion among the ground troops and delays in military response.

An informed source said that there was clear intent on the part of the police to “erase” key military officers in Maguindanao during the launching of Oplan “Exodus” that resulted in the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, including seven junior officers, last Jan. 25.

They noted that Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade, and Lt. Col. Romeo Bautista, chief of the 45th Infantry Battalion (IB), were singled out in the invitation for so called “celebration for successful joint operation in Central Mindanao.”

“Why only Colonel Feliciano and Lieutenant Colonel Bautista were invited in the celebration? Why not include other senior officers of the 6ID (Army’s 6th Infantry Division)? They (police) specifically picked the ground commanders. Why? Because the two are in-charge of Maguindanao, specifically Mamasapano,” one source said.

The source said that the police official who invited Feliciano and Bautista was not from SAF but “an intelligence officer” in Central Mindanao.

“That is part of their plan,” the source said, noting that the drinking session happened on the eve of the launching of Oplan “Exodus.”

“For us, it was obviously intentional,” he added.

The source said that as a consequence Feliciano and Bautista reported late in the morning of Jan. 25 or the height of the clashes between the SAF and combined elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in barangays Pidsandawan and Tukanalipao in Mamasapano.

This prompted Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th ID, to tap Col. Gener del Rosario, head of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, as the ground commander for the military troops.
As 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, Del Rosario, however, has no jurisdiction over Mamasapano, which is directly under the 45th IB and 601st Brigade.

The source said that the move created confusion among the military ground troops in the early stages of the Mamasapano clash, particularly on junior officers on the ground –company and platoon leaders.
Mario J. Mallari


PHILSTAR

Senate panel stands by Mamasapano report By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated March 25, 2015 - 10:54am


Sen. Grace Poe commended the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for completing their investigation on the Mamasapano incident and providing the Senate with a copy of the report. Senate PRIB/Romy Bugante

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate stands by its own report on the Mamasapano tragedy even after the release of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's own findings, Sen. Grace Poe said.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, noted that the Senate's joint committee report has been backed by 20 senators.

Amendments, meanwhile, can be proposed and may be considered once the session resumes in May.

"How the MILF report should be treated, considering certain findings of fact which are contradictory to a portion of ours, shall also be discussed by the joint committees," Poe said.

READ MORE..
Poe noted that the reports from the Senate and MILF differ, particularly on the nature and gravity of the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

In the report submitted last Tuesday, the MILF justified fighting back at the SAF commandos who fired first and broke the ceasefire agreement.

The senator said that the divergent views might have been the effect of the Senate and MILF's access to different sets of witnesses.

"What is important is that all of us continue on our pursuit of the truth and not to waver on our quest for genuine peace in Mindanao," the senator said.

Poe also commended the MILF leadership for submitting to the Senate a copy of their own report on the incident at Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

The MILF earlier said it would instead submit the report to Kuala Lumpur and requested the government to obtain a copy from the International Monitoring Team facilitating the peace process.


INQUIRER

Aquino playing safe in not apologizing, says Santiago Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 1:33 PM | Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III, in his refusal to apologize for the Mamasapano incident, is avoiding any criminal or civil liability after his term ends in 2016, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Wednesday.

Santiago said the President should have immediately told the truth to the public the moment the Mamasapano crisis began brewing.

“The truth should have been released immediately the moment that the crisis began brewing. Immediately, the President should have by himself told the truth to the Filipino public,” she told reporters when asked about the President’s refusal to apologize for the Mamasapano operation.

“There’s a question of well if that’s the truth, why are you not apologizing? The answer is because he (Aquino) wants to avoid any liability arising from a confession after his term ends in 2016,” the senator said.

“Remember that after he’s no longer president, he becomes liable to all manner of suits. He loses immunity from suit both civil and criminal so he’s afraid that if he apologizes in effect some courts might consider that that is a confession admissible in law and in effect therefore he will be his own worse witness. That’s why he does not want to apologize. He wants to evade any criminal or even civil liability after 2016,” she added.

Santiago was one of the 20 senators who signed a Senate draft report that found the President responsible, among others, for the January 25 Mamasapano operation that left 44 elite policemen dead.

The report has yet to be discussed in the plenary when Congress resumes its session in May. ID


EARLIER INQUIRER REPORT

Aquino apology is necessary Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:05 AM | Wednesday, March 11th, 2015


Benigno Aquino III

What makes it so hard for President Benigno Aquino III to apologize for the botched Mamasapano operation?

One might wonder why even some bishops, who have moral authority over him (P-Noy happens to be a member of their flock), have joined the call of Senators Sergio Osmena III and JV Ejercito for him to issue an apology to that effect—a call he continues to ignore.

Could it be because by doing so, President Aquino “could create a legal liability,” the same reason he gave in rejecting Hong Kong’s demand that he apologize for the 2010 hostage crisis in Luneta (“P-Noy rejects suggestions to issue apology to HK,” News, 2/6/14)?

Nonetheless, any which way we look at it, it appears that P-Noy is accountable, hence he cannot evade legal liability over the Mamasapano operation. Why?

READ MORE...
First, P-Noy unwittingly put the Special Action Force commandos in twin dangers by allowing then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima to continue supervising the operation while the latter was under preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombusdman on corruption charges.

Thus the President broke the chain of command by keeping both Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer in charge Leonardo Espina in the dark about the operation. Later, Purisima was found to have lied to the President (“P-Noy: Purisima lied to me. Palace: President seems not to regret entrusting control to ex-PNP chief,” Front Page, 2/25/15).

Secondly, has President Aquino easily forgotten his own assertion that “I am both the commander in chief and president, therefore, at the end of the day, everything is my responsibility” (“P-Noy: I’m responsible for Zambo operation,” Front Page, 9/20/13)?

Would there be anybody else responsible for the Luneta tragedy and the Zamboanga and Mamasapano operations other than the commander in chief and president who happens to be President Aquino at the time they occurred?

With respect to responsibility, the Bible has this to say: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, but we knew nothing about this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?”—Proverbs 24:11-12

P-Noy should apologize (at the very least) in order to ease the tension and mitigate possible charges he may face soon after he steps down from presidency. —ARMANDO LIBRANDO ALPAY, c/o judithalpay@yahoo.com


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