© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO)
 http://newsflash.org

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

CHINA BUILDING COMBAT-CAPABLE AIR FACILITY ON REEF


SEPTEMBER 12 -Photo provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines shows construction on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the Spratly Islands. On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III said China's efforts to stake its execessive territorial claims remind him of Nazi Germany's territorial conquests in the lead-up to World War II. STAR/Armed Forces of the Philippines
China is building a combat-capable air facility on Zamora (Subi) Reef in the South China Sea in a development seen to jeopardize the Philippines’ possession of nearby Pag-asa Island. Satellite photos published last Thursday by the website The Diplomat showed China is subgrading for a runway at a width of about 60 meters. The website said the extent of subgrading at Zamora Reef is about 2,200 meters “with obvious preparations for a longer span underway.” “As pointed out by analysts, these military facilities and others newly constructed by China in the Spratlys would increase Beijing’s capacity to enforce an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, if it were to declare one,” The Diplomat report said. The projects are also expected to significantly improve the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s capability for anti-submarine warfare, the website added. Military historian Jose Custodio said the Philippines is in danger of losing Pag-asa Island because of the facility being built by China. The Philippine-occupied island is just 12 nautical miles from Zamora Reef. “If they (China) are able to operate this (facility), they can seal off the area and conduct a blockade. The Chinese can prohibit an aircraft from landing on the island,” Custodio said. Pag-asa, the second largest island in the disputed Spratlys chain, is being occupied by about 200 civilians and Filipino soldiers. China is claiming the Philippines illegally occupied the area, which it calls Thitu Island. The Philippine government has been conducting supply missions to support the residents of Pag-asa, which is located within Kalayaan, a fifth class town of Palawan. Custodio said China could use its military muscle to pressure the Philippines to give up Pag-asa. He said it would be difficult for the government to maintain Pag-asa once China’s base becomes operational. “(Zamora) can unhinge our presence there,” Custodio said. “If they (military facilities) become operational, how will it affect us? Will we continue to provide supplies or withdraw?” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO MILF's Mamansapano probe out: ‘Marwan killed by aide’; It is the only truth
[‘They lied to P-Noy’ “They lied about what really happened, how they killed Marwan. They lied to the President, to the people and to the families of the 44 SAF officers who died in the operation,” the officer said. “It is now difficult to find out what really happened, because there is no one to blame for the deaths of the SAF 44 but their commanders who deployed them for a poorly planned mission. When it backfired, they blamed everyone but themselves,” the officer said.]


SEPTEMBER 13 -Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (also known as “Marwan”) lies dead in his hut, his possessions in disarray after a surprise raid by members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force(PNP-SAF). CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Was Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” executed by his aides? If he was, was the execution the “alternative truth” to the Mamasapano clash that President Aquino said the government was investigating? Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said in an interview that there was “no alternative truth.”
“There is only one truth,” Iqbal said, adding that it is found in the report of the MILF in its investigation of the clash between its forces and commandos from the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25. The report included the MILF investigators’ observation that Marwan was shot in the back of the head, probably while lying face-down on the floor. “This was our information per our investigation although we no longer did a follow-up because we felt it was the task of the PNP,” a source from the MILF said on Saturday.
“Marwan was already dead when the SAF arrived in his hut. The scenario we saw was the attack [by the SAF] was just a drama,” the source said in an interview. The source told the Inquirer that the MILF believed Marwan was killed by his own aides, a theory based on the group’s investigation report. Forty-four SAF commandos, 17 MILF guerrillas and three civilians were killed in the daylong gun battle, sparking public outrage that delayed the completion of a peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF last year. MILF’s probe “It was really his [Marwan’s] security [aide] who killed him,” the source said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. READ MORE...

ALSO: Board of inquiry disputes MILF version, maintains SAF troops killed Marwan
[It was an Insult to SAF 44, Magalong said, “It was a very sincere effort on the part of the SAF. They sacrificed so much,” But Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the PNP, said that the police would comply with the President’s directive to “ferret out the truth in the Mamasapano incident.”]


SEPTEMBER 14 -Director Benjamin Magalong, the former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group who headed the board of inquiry that investigated the botched SAF operation, said Sunday he was standing by the police finding that Marwan was killed by the police commandos. JULLIANE LOVE DE JESUS/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO
The Philippine National Police insisted Sunday that commandos from its Special Action Force (SAF) killed Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” in a raid on the Malaysian terrorist’s lair in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in January.Several PNP officials disputed the findings of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) investigative team that Marwan, for whose capture dead or alive the US government had offered a reward of $5 million, was most likely executed by his own aides.It was unclear whether the MILF findings, some of which were quoted by the Inquirer in a report published Sunday, were the “alternative truth” that President Aquino said, in a talk with this paper’s editors and reporters last Tuesday, the government was investigating.Magalong said the board, upon its creation a day after the clash, immediately opened an investigation and inspected the battlefield.“Based on the evidence that we gathered, our SAF teams killed Marwan. They sacrificed so much and risked their lives. The SAF truly deserves the credit and all the honors,” he said.No exchange of fire The MILF report, however, indicated that Marwan was already dead when the SAF strike force arrived at his hut in Pembalkan village early on Jan. 25. Contrary to the SAF’s report that Marwan was killed in an exchange of fire with the commandos, the MILF said there were no indications of a gun battle inside or outside the hut.Its report said bullet holes on the hut’s walls were roughly 46 centimeters above the floor. Marwan could not have been hit if he was lying down. If he was standing, he would have been hit in lower parts of his body, not in the chest.READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Who really killed Marwan?[The President’s admission that the official version might be inaccurate means that the MILF report must be revisited, and that the official government inquiries be resumed—even if it means that tougher questions must be asked, of the MILF, the SAF, and even the President himself.]


SEPTEMBER 14 -MILF leader: Marwan really dead | HeadlinesNews FEBRUARY 2015 --
THE RUMORS had been circulating for some time, but President Aquino established it as fact: The government was investigating the possibility that Malaysian terrorist bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan, was killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January not by Philippine National Police Special Action Force troopers but by other persons, perhaps his own aides. The possibility that there is, in the President’s words, an “alternative truth” to the Mamasapano clash deserves a closer look—and demands that the PNP Board of Inquiry and the three Senate committees on public order, on peace, unification and reconciliation, and on finance reopen their respective investigations. Speaking at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum on Tuesday, the President said he had not yet closed the book on the Mamasapano tragedy. “Do I have closure? I still have quite a number of questions, and there are various agencies of government tasked to ferret out the truth of exactly what happened in its entirety. There is an alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing very intense scrutiny.” He noted, in particular, that the photo of a dead Marwan which the Inquirer published a few days after the operation raised disturbing questions. “There are certain quarters who did point out certain questions that arose from viewing that picture. Does this support the so-called official version of what transpired? Now, if it doesn’t support [the official version], can it be explained or not? That is an ongoing process. There is no conclusion at this point.” Some critics of Mr. Aquino immediately attacked him for what they say is an attempt to change the official version of events. The President’s popularity took a serious hit because of the Mamasapano crisis: from the way he allowed a suspended PNP chief to get involved in the operation, to his perceived delay in ordering a rescue of the trapped troopers, to the insensitive decision to skip the arrival honors for the dead troopers in favor of a previously scheduled event at a car manufacturing plant. The attempt to focus attention on an “alternative truth,” his critics charged, was an effort to rewrite the Mamasapano story, to place him in a better light. READ MORE...

ALSO: SAF, Palace clash looms
[Police official bares gag order on Mamasapano carnage]


SEPTEMBER 13 -Aquino: I was fooled on Mamasapano mission; President Benigno Aquino III in a previous speech on the Mamasapano clash. File photo March 9, 2015 PHILSTAR
SIMMERING hostilities over the unsettled controversy brought by the massacre of dozens of elite police officers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, early this year came to light as a high-ranking official disclosed recently that officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered not to talk about the incident.What revived the dormant resentment of PNP officials was the recent statement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that he is studying an “alternative version” of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.The top police official told The Manila Times that many SAF officers felt offended by the President’s disclosure, noting that the supposed new leads are actually “misleads.”
The source said the SAF officers have been given orders not to respond to questions regarding the “alternative truth.” “You can ask around. That is, if SAF officers will reply to you because they have been directed not to make any comments. They were told not to talk. The PNP has extensively investigated the incident through the Board of Inquiry. How will General [Director Benjamin] Magalog react to this?” the police official said.Magalong was the head of the board that investigated the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 SAF commandos who were deployed to get terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman.Marwan died during the dawn raid while Usman was killed in May.Aquino, in a forum last week, said various government agencies are trying to establish what happened in Mamasapano on January 25, 2015.“There is an alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing very intense scrutiny. We are looking for witnesses that will prove or disprove certain observations,” the President added.But Magalong, when reached by this paper, refused to comment on the supposed new twist.He, however, stood pat on the report of the Board of Inquiry.READ MORE...

ALSO at the Senate: Prove new Marwan tale - Recto
[Recto said the other things that should be disclosed are all communication logs including audio recordings of communication between SAF and forward bases, footage and any recording if the operation was monitored in real time by a satellite or drone circling above, terminal ballistics reports to determine the type of weapons used as well as the military reports on the death of Marwan and the Filipino bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman.]


RECTO
SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Sunday challenged those who are peddling a “revisionist” version of what happened during the Mamasapano massacre to come out with solid proof of their claims, since this could devalue the heroism of the 44 police commandos who were killed in the covert operation.
“If what they are alleging will be later proven false, the damage to their reputation will be irreparable. The people will find them guilty of character assassination of the dead,” Recto said, reacting to allegations that the international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan was killed by one of his aides and not by the Special Action Force commandos.Recto said a video of the operations should be declassified and made available to the public now. “If there is a GoPro footage that shows the SAF killed Marwan, then it should be revealed,” Recto said. He said the other things that should be disclosed are all communication logs including audio recordings of communication between SAF and forward bases, footage and any recording if the operation was monitored in real time by a satellite or drone circling above, terminal ballistics reports to determine the type of weapons used as well as the military reports on the death of Marwan and the Filipino bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman. “For those making accusations, they cannot just make accusations and then just say sorry if [the story is not] true. The people may not be forgiving of those who vilify the valor of those who gave up their lives for the country,” Recto said. President Benigno Aquino III earlier disclosed there is an “alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing intense scrutiny.” “We are looking for witnesses who will prove or disprove certain observations,” he added. Executive Paquito Ochoa declined to answer queries from Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares about the supposed new leads mentioned by the President. Senator Francis Escudero also sought evidence that would support this so-called alternate version. He said it would be reckless to give the nation, especially the families of the victims of the Mamasapano incident, false hopes when nothing concrete to support the claim has been presented. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

China building combat-capable air facility on reef


Photo provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines shows construction on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the Spratly Islands. On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III said China's efforts to stake its execessive territorial claims remind him of Nazi Germany's territorial conquests in the lead-up to World War II. STAR/Armed Forces of the Philippines

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 14, 2015, (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero September 12, 2015- China is building a combat-capable air facility on Zamora (Subi) Reef in the South China Sea in a development seen to jeopardize the Philippines’ possession of nearby Pag-asa Island.

Satellite photos published last Thursday by the website The Diplomat showed China is subgrading for a runway at a width of about 60 meters.

The website said the extent of subgrading at Zamora Reef is about 2,200 meters “with obvious preparations for a longer span underway.”

“As pointed out by analysts, these military facilities and others newly constructed by China in the Spratlys would increase Beijing’s capacity to enforce an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, if it were to declare one,” The Diplomat report said.

The projects are also expected to significantly improve the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s capability for anti-submarine warfare, the website added.

Military historian Jose Custodio said the Philippines is in danger of losing Pag-asa Island because of the facility being built by China. The Philippine-occupied island is just 12 nautical miles from Zamora Reef.

“If they (China) are able to operate this (facility), they can seal off the area and conduct a blockade. The Chinese can prohibit an aircraft from landing on the island,” Custodio said.

Pag-asa, the second largest island in the disputed Spratlys chain, is being occupied by about 200 civilians and Filipino soldiers. China is claiming the Philippines illegally occupied the area, which it calls Thitu Island.

The Philippine government has been conducting supply missions to support the residents of Pag-asa, which is located within Kalayaan, a fifth class town of Palawan.

Custodio said China could use its military muscle to pressure the Philippines to give up Pag-asa. He said it would be difficult for the government to maintain Pag-asa once China’s base becomes operational.

“(Zamora) can unhinge our presence there,” Custodio said.

“If they (military facilities) become operational, how will it affect us? Will we continue to provide supplies or withdraw?” he added.

READ MORE...

Sought for comment, defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said the photos published by The Diplomat have “much similarity” with the images they have monitored.

The news website’s photos were taken by commercial satellite imaging company Digital Globe last Sept. 3.

The Diplomat said the size of China’s landfill at Zamora could accommodate a runway 3,300 meters long and a parallel taxiway like that of Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef.

The online report said no laying of pavement has been observed so far but a section of the north rim of the reef is being widened by extending a large retaining wall into the sea and backfilling the enclosed water area with sediment.

“Elsewhere, dozens of bulldozers, cranes, trucks and tracked excavators are redistributing and compacting hundreds of acres of sand,” The Diplomat report said.

Aside from Zamora, China is also building structures in Panganiban (Mischief), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, areas that are also being claimed by the Philippines.


INQUIRER

MILF SAYS IT’S THE ONLY TRUTH ON MAMASAPANO -‘Marwan killed by aide’By: Nikko Dizon and Arlyn de la Cruz-Correspondent at large @inquirerdotnet September 13, 2015


Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (also known as “Marwan”) lies dead in his hut, his possessions in disarray after a surprise raid by members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF). CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Was Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” executed by his aides?

If he was, was the execution the “alternative truth” to the Mamasapano clash that President Aquino said the government was investigating?

Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF), said in an interview that there was “no alternative truth.”

“There is only one truth,” Iqbal said, adding that it is found in the report of the MILF in its investigation of the clash between its forces and commandos from the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.

The report included the MILF investigators’ observation that Marwan was shot in the back of the head, probably while lying face-down on the floor.

“This was our information per our investigation although we no longer did a follow-up because we felt it was the task of the PNP,” a source from the MILF said on Saturday.

“Marwan was already dead when the SAF arrived in his hut. The scenario we saw was the attack [by the SAF] was just a drama,” the source said in an interview.

The source told the Inquirer that the MILF believed Marwan was killed by his own aides, a theory based on the group’s investigation report.

Forty-four SAF commandos, 17 MILF guerrillas and three civilians were killed in the daylong gun battle, sparking public outrage that delayed the completion of a peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF last year.

MILF’s probe

“It was really his [Marwan’s] security [aide] who killed him,” the source said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

READ MORE...

The source said that the MILF’s own investigation showed that the firefight in Barangay (village) Pembalkan, Mamasapano, where Marwan was found, was between the 84th Seaborne unit of the SAF and the group of Marwan’s Filipino aide, Basit Usman.

“Basit Usman and his men were alerted by the gunshots from Marwan’s hut and that triggered the firefight,” the source said.

Other Inquirer sources, quoting unconfirmed reports, said one of Marwan’s aides was killed in the firefight while another was able to escape.

The MILF Special Investigation Commission implied in its 35-page report submitted to the government in March that Marwan was executed, but the information went largely unnoticed, or ignored.

Truth in MILF report

Speaking to the Inquirer in a separate interview, Iqbal said the truth about what happened in Mamasapano could be found in the MILF report.

“If you have read the report, the truth is there and for us that is the truth, not the alternative truth. I don’t want to sound political, but the report speaks for itself,” Iqbal said.

The MILF report was never made public, but copies were given to, besides the government peace panel, an international team that monitored the ceasefire between the government and the MILF, the Department of Justice and Sen. Grace Poe, who headed the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano clash.

Ocular inspection

Here is how the MILF investigators, in their report, described what could have happened inside the hut and the surrounding area where the firefight between the 84th Seaborne and Marwan’s men allegedly took place:

“During the ocular inspection, the Commission found that there were very few bullet holes on the wall of the hut where Marwan was found and killed. The trajectory of the bullets also indicate that the fatal shot did not come from the shots fired outside the house as the bullet holes are roughly [46 centimeters] above the floor. If the shots were fired while Marwan was lying down, he could not have been hit while if he was standing and engaged the elements of the SAF in a firefight, the injuries sustained should have been at his lower body and not on the chest.”

Shot at close range

The report noted: “There are also no bullet holes on the floor of the hut. In all likelihood, the fatal shot must have been fired at close range and while Marwan was lying on the floor.”

It also said that Marwan’s hut, which has a floor area of 2.4 by 4 meters, was only 119 meters away from the hut of Usman.

That Marwan was executed by his aides, who likely had become government assets, and was not killed in an exchange of fire with SAF commandos would drastically change the story in the report of Director Getulio Napeñas, the then SAF commander, on what happened in Mamasapano.

It would also raise the question of whether the 55th SAC, the back-up force that suffered the heaviest casualties, should have even been in Barangay Tukanalipao, which was 3 kilometers away from Barangay Pembalkan.

Despite the deaths of 44 of his men, Napeñas described the police counterterrorism operation as a success because they were able to take down Marwan.

The US government had offered a $5-million reward for the capture of Marwan and $1 million for Usman.

Usman slipped out of Mamasapano after the clash and was killed in May in Guindulungan town, also in Maguindanao. MILF fighters reportedly took down Usman.

Gov’t investigation
Last Tuesday, President Aquino disclosed at the Meet the Inquirer Multimedia forum that there was an emerging “alternative truth” to the Mamasapano debacle.

Aquino said the photograph of Marwan lying dead in the hut “posed many questions.”

“That is what we want to resolve,” he had said.

The photo, contributed by a source to Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo, was published by the Inquirer on Jan. 30.

Difficulty in finding witnesses

Aquino did not give details, saying an investigation was going on and that the investigators were having difficulty finding witnesses.

The photo published by the Inquirer showed Marwan lying half-naked, with a pool of blood under his head, indicating that he might have been shot from behind. A clean chest shot also left him bloodied. His body appeared not to bear large bullet wounds.

Various Inquirer sources noted that this was not how someone would look like if he was felled by bullets from high-powered firearms.

SAF survivors said Marwan was awakened when members of the strike force entered his hut. He fired on the commandos, who fired back, killing him.

They said one officer took pictures of the slain Marwan and another cut a finger from the right hand of the dead terrorist for DNA tests.

The gunfire roused Marwan’s followers who lived nearby, the survivors said, and the commandos fought their way out of the hut and the village.
No resistance

Iqbal said there was no way Marwan could have offered resistance, but declined to comment beyond what was stated in the MILF report.

“What [the investigators] presented is the result of actual investigation on the ground. What we presented is a strong lead to ferret out the truth. We wanted to know the truth like everyone else,” Iqbal said.

Contradicting the statements of SAF survivors, the MILF report noted that within the vicinity of Marwan’s hut, “there are no indications of bomb explosion[s] as there are no craters on the ground around the hut.”

“Neither is there indication of an intense firefight in or around the hut,” the MILF report added.

The MILF report also said the 84th Seaborne encountered members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), an MILF splinter group, as the police commandos withdrew from Marwan’s hut.

“Intense fighting occurred in an area about 927 meters from the hut where Marwan was found and killed,” the report said.

Ali Tambako

The MILF report said that according to information gathered, “Marwan was buried by the forces of Mohammad Ali Tambako around the areas of Barangays Pembalkan and Dasikil, known lairs of the BIFF and the forces of Mohammad Ali Tambako.”

The Inquirer source from the MILF said the police should interrogate Tambako, whom they arrested in General Santos City in March.

“Tambako was the one who coddled Usman and Marwan. He should know something,” the source said.

A military officer told the Inquirer that investigating how Marwan died would lead to the truth about how the SAF Mamasapano operation was “handled, controlled and mismanaged in the end.”

‘They lied to P-Noy’

“They lied about what really happened, how they killed Marwan. They lied to the President, to the people and to the families of the 44 SAF officers who died in the operation,” the officer said.

“It is now difficult to find out what really happened, because there is no one to blame for the deaths of the SAF 44 but their commanders who deployed them for a poorly planned mission. When it backfired, they blamed everyone but themselves,” the officer said.—
Nikko Dizon and Arlyn de la Cruz, Correspondent at large


INQUIRER

Board of inquiry: SAF troops killed Marwan MILF’S VERSION OF DEATH DISPUTED @inquirerdotnet 12:56 AM September 14th, 2015


Director Benjamin Magalong, the former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group who headed the board of inquiry that investigated the botched SAF operation, said Sunday he was standing by the police finding that Marwan was killed by the police commandos. JULLIANE LOVE DE JESUS/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

The Philippine National Police insisted Sunday that commandos from its Special Action Force (SAF) killed Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” in a raid on the Malaysian terrorist’s lair in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in January.

Several PNP officials disputed the findings of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) investigative team that Marwan, for whose capture dead or alive the US government had offered a reward of $5 million, was most likely executed by his own aides.

It was unclear whether the MILF findings, some of which were quoted by the Inquirer in a report published Sunday, were the “alternative truth” that President Aquino said, in a talk with this paper’s editors and reporters last Tuesday, the government was investigating.

Magalong said the board, upon its creation a day after the clash, immediately opened an investigation and inspected the battlefield.

“Based on the evidence that we gathered, our SAF teams killed Marwan. They sacrificed so much and risked their lives. The SAF truly deserves the credit and all the honors,” he said.

No exchange of fire

The MILF report, however, indicated that Marwan was already dead when the SAF strike force arrived at his hut in Pembalkan village early on Jan. 25.

Contrary to the SAF’s report that Marwan was killed in an exchange of fire with the commandos, the MILF said there were no indications of a gun battle inside or outside the hut.

Its report said bullet holes on the hut’s walls were roughly 46 centimeters above the floor. Marwan could not have been hit if he was lying down. If he was standing, he would have been hit in lower parts of his body, not in the chest.

READ MORE...

A picture of the dead Marwan published by the Inquirer on Jan. 30 showed him half-naked, with a bullet wound on his chest and his head lying on a pool of blood, which, according to the MILF report, indicated that Marwan was shot in the head, most likely from behind and as he lay face-down on the floor.

2 aides

Who shot Marwan was never officially established by both police and MILF investigators.

But the Inquirer learned from a source in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and another from the MILF that Marwan’s aides, Datucan Singgagao and Candao Langalan, were the ones who killed him.

Their names do not appear in any investigation documents, according to the sources, but they said the secret SAF operation employed two government assets—Singgagao and Langalan—who were followers of Mohammad Ali Tambako, leader of a group that broke away from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

A splinter group of the MILF, the BIFF has been identified as the coddler of Marwan and his Filipino aide, Basit Usman.

Tambako was arrested by police and military operatives in General Santos City in March, while Usman was killed, reportedly by MILF guerrillas, in Guindulungan, Mamasapano, in May.

Foreigners involved


The military and MILF sources said Singgagao and Langalan were recruited not by the SAF but by a foreign agency that had a presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The plan was to get Marwan through the two assets. We know because the project was initially offered to us, but the consequences and the risks were too high that we did not take the mission,” the military source told the Inquirer.

The government and the MILF are observing a ceasefire. Mamasapano delayed the completion of a peace agreement that they signed last year.

The SAF accepted the mission because of the high level of confidence of its chief at the time, Director Getulio Napeñas, and that was because the SAF was armed with “precise intelligence information,” the source said.

The plan, the source said, was for commandos from the SAF’s 84th Seaborne unit to enter the hut in Pembalkan and find Marwan dead. But the plan changed, the source said.

When they got to the hut, the commandos executed their assets, but an aide to Marwan got away and alerted Usman, whose hut was less than 100 meters away. “That’s when all hell broke loose,” the source said.

Missing information

The military source said there was “vital information” that did not appear in any documents on the investigation: One of Marwan’s wives was in the hut.

“The truth is that Marwan was asleep, as he just had sex with his wife, when he was shot by his aides. This explains the MILF finding that he was shot at close range, and why he had no pants,” the source said.

The MILF source said his group had no information about Marwan’s wife, whether she was in the hut when the terrorist was killed or whether he just had sex with her when he was killed.

“What is clear is that Marwan did not die the way the SAF reported his death,” said the MILF source.

Magalong said the board of inquiry did not receive any evidence from the MILF that would support its claim about Marwan’s death. “Anybody can simply generate claims, allegations or false information and make it appear to be true,” he said.

“The burden of proof lies with that person who is making the claim,” said Magalong, who now heads the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, as he challenged those claiming that the SAF did not kill Marwan to show evidence.

He said the MILF never mentioned its findings at the Senate and House inquiries into the Mamasapano clash.

‘Only one truth’

In a recent interview with the Inquirer, Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the MILF, said in reaction to the President’s report of an “alternative truth” about Mamasapano, there was only one truth and it was in the MILF’s investigation report.

Napeñas, who did not give the MILF a heads-up on the SAF operation to keep it secret, a decision that backfired on the mission, also disputed the MILF’s findings.

“The only truth is Marwan was killed by the SAF and we have solid and very credible pieces of evidence and personnel who collected these are honorable and very credible officers,” he said in a telephone interview with Inquirer.net on Sunday.

Napeñas, who was sacked after the Mamasapano debacle and had since retired, challenged Iqbal to prove that Marwan was already dead when the commandos arrived at his hut.

“It is for the MILF and Iqbal to show [the] evidence. After all, they were the ones who were claiming that it was the aide who killed Marwan,” he said.

Director Virgilio Lazo, the new SAF chief, said the MILF report ran counter to the accounts of the commandos who survived the mission. “We are a little sad,” he said, referring to the survivors.

Insult to SAF 44

Magalong said that apart from being an attack on the PNP’s credibility, the claim that the SAF was not the killer of Marwan was an insult to the 44 police commandos who died in the daylong gun battle with Moro rebels, including fighters from the MILF, that followed the unraveling of the mission in Pembalkan.

“It was a very sincere effort on the part of the SAF. They sacrificed so much,” he said.

But Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the PNP, said that the police would comply with the President’s directive to “ferret out the truth in the Mamasapano incident.”

“What is contained in the [board of inquiry] report is reflective of its findings [at the time of the investigation],” Mayor said.—
Julie M. Aurelio and Arlyn de la Cruz, Correspondent at large, with Julliane Love de Jesus, Inquirer.net


INQUIRER

EDITORIAL: Who really killed Marwan? @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:40 AM September 14th, 2015


MILF leader: Marwan really dead | HeadlinesNews FEBRUARY 2015.

THE RUMORS had been circulating for some time, but President Aquino established it as fact: The government was investigating the possibility that Malaysian terrorist bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan, was killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January not by Philippine National Police Special Action Force troopers but by other persons, perhaps his own aides.

The possibility that there is, in the President’s words, an “alternative truth” to the Mamasapano clash deserves a closer look—and demands that the PNP Board of Inquiry and the three Senate committees on public order, on peace, unification and reconciliation, and on finance reopen their respective investigations.

Speaking at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum on Tuesday, the President said he had not yet closed the book on the Mamasapano tragedy. “Do I have closure? I still have quite a number of questions, and there are various agencies of government tasked to ferret out the truth of exactly what happened in its entirety. There is an alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing very intense scrutiny.”

He noted, in particular, that the photo of a dead Marwan which the Inquirer published a few days after the operation raised disturbing questions. “There are certain quarters who did point out certain questions that arose from viewing that picture. Does this support the so-called official version of what transpired? Now, if it doesn’t support [the official version], can it be explained or not? That is an ongoing process. There is no conclusion at this point.”

Some critics of Mr. Aquino immediately attacked him for what they say is an attempt to change the official version of events.

The President’s popularity took a serious hit because of the Mamasapano crisis: from the way he allowed a suspended PNP chief to get involved in the operation, to his perceived delay in ordering a rescue of the trapped troopers, to the insensitive decision to skip the arrival honors for the dead troopers in favor of a previously scheduled event at a car manufacturing plant.

The attempt to focus attention on an “alternative truth,” his critics charged, was an effort to rewrite the Mamasapano story, to place him in a better light.

READ MORE...

But this criticism does not make sense. The President’s survey ratings have recovered from the lows of the first quarter of the year; and the possibility that the SAF did not kill Marwan undermines his own decision to entrust the entire operation to the elite police force. In other words, a finding that aides-turned-government-informers had killed Marwan throws into question not only the operational plan itself, but the choice of the unit to execute the plan.

There is no way that President Aquino can distance himself from the original and controversial decision to send the SAF in.

But if the controversial photo does raise questions—for instance: Does the pool of blood under his head indicate that he was shot from behind?

Does the apparent lack of large bullet wounds signify the absence of a firefight?

Does the mere fact that the photo was taken at all suggest that there was in fact no exchange of gunfire?—it is in the nation’s best interest to find the answers, wherever they may lead.

The investigation by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front concluded that Marwan was shot at close range—but that conclusion was seen then, when the report came out, as a necessarily biased view.

Some of the points the MILF investigation raised were based on a visit to Marwan’s hut: Only a few bullet holes on the walls of the hut, none at all on the floor, etc. Unfortunately, even when the military had established a virtual lockdown on the area, government investigators were never able to inspect the hut. And the hut burned down in February, torched, it was said, by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The President’s admission that the official version might be inaccurate means that the MILF report must be revisited, and that the official government inquiries be resumed—even if it means that tougher questions must be asked, of the MILF, the SAF, and even the President himself.


MANILA TIMES

SAF, Palace clash looms September 13, 2015 10:41 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER


Aquino: I was fooled on Mamasapano mission; President Benigno Aquino III in a previous speech on the Mamasapano clash. File photo March 9, 2015 PHILSTAR

Police official bares gag order on Mamasapano carnage

SIMMERING hostilities over the unsettled controversy brought by the massacre of dozens of elite police officers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, early this year came to light as a high-ranking official disclosed recently that officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered not to talk about the incident.

What revived the dormant resentment of PNP officials was the recent statement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that he is studying an “alternative version” of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

The top police official told The Manila Times that many SAF officers felt offended by the President’s disclosure, noting that the supposed new leads are actually “misleads.”

The source said the SAF officers have been given orders not to respond to questions regarding the “alternative truth.”

“You can ask around. That is, if SAF officers will reply to you because they have been directed not to make any comments. They were told not to talk. The PNP has extensively investigated the incident through the Board of Inquiry. How will General [Director Benjamin] Magalog react to this?” the police official said.

Magalong was the head of the board that investigated the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 SAF commandos who were deployed to get terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman.


Police Director Benjamin Magalong

Marwan died during the dawn raid while Usman was killed in May.

Aquino, in a forum last week, said various government agencies are trying to establish what happened in Mamasapano on January 25, 2015.

“There is an alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing very intense scrutiny. We are looking for witnesses that will prove or disprove certain observations,” the President added.

But Magalong, when reached by this paper, refused to comment on the supposed new twist.

He, however, stood pat on the report of the Board of Inquiry.

“I stand by my report. The [surviving] SAF officers risked their lives as their colleagues sacrificed their own just to get Marwan. They have saved the lives of many people who would have been victimized by him,” Magalong said.

The board’s report indicated that Aquino bypassed the chain of command when he allowed his friend, former PNP chief Alan Purisima, to implement Oplan (Operation Plan): Exodus.

Purisima was under preventive suspension when the mission to get Marwan was carried out.

READ MORE...

The Board of Inquiry was activated on February 2, 2015, days after the deadly January 25 carnage where separatist rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other armed groups mowed down the SAF troops who were providing cover for a company of policemen who raided Marwan’s hut.

The report contained more than 300 signed affidavits of SAF members, military officials, witnesses and other civilians who provided information on the firefight.

When asked if he thinks the “alternative truth” revealed by the President has bearing, Magalong, who was chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when the probe was launched,curtly replied: “I’m sorry. I cannot speak on something I have no authority to talk about.”

He was summoned to Malacanang days after he released the board’s report.

Magalong said the President was clearly upset by the results of the probe.

Last month, the police officer was replaced at the CIDG by Bicol police commander and Chief Supt. Victor Deona.

According to The Manila Times source, he will come out “in the right time” to reveal everything he knows about the bungled operation.

“Clearly, this alternative truth is aimed at discrediting the SAF. And this can only be done by someone who feels guilty about it. There are efforts to exonerate top officials,” he said.

When asked if the “guilty” officials include President Aquino, the source replied, “Of course.”

In Malacanang, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President has ordered a probe of the new angle, which according to reports indicated that Marwan was actually killed by his aides who turned government spies.

“President Aquino himself said there is a need to get to the truth of the matter, the complete truth,” Coloma added.

“He himself ordered a continuous probe [of] this matter. It’s better if we will just wait for results of this investigation,” he said.


Recto: Prove new Marwan tale By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Sep. 14, 2015 at 12:01am


RECTO

SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Sunday challenged those who are peddling a “revisionist” version of what happened during the Mamasapano massacre to come out with solid proof of their claims, since this could devalue the heroism of the 44 police commandos who were killed in the covert operation.

“If what they are alleging will be later proven false, the damage to their reputation will be irreparable. The people will find them guilty of character assassination of the dead,” Recto said, reacting to allegations that the international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan was killed by one of his aides and not by the Special Action Force commandos.

Recto said a video of the operations should be declassified and made available to the public now.

“If there is a GoPro footage that shows the SAF killed Marwan, then it should be revealed,” Recto said.

He said the other things that should be disclosed are all communication logs including audio recordings of communication between SAF and forward bases, footage and any recording if the operation was monitored in real time by a satellite or drone circling above, terminal ballistics reports to determine the type of weapons used as well as the military reports on the death of Marwan and the Filipino bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman.

“For those making accusations, they cannot just make accusations and then just say sorry if [the story is not] true. The people may not be forgiving of those who vilify the valor of those who gave up their lives for the country,” Recto said.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier disclosed there is an “alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing intense scrutiny.”

“We are looking for witnesses who will prove or disprove certain observations,” he added.

Executive Paquito Ochoa declined to answer queries from Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares about the supposed new leads mentioned by the President.

Senator Francis Escudero also sought evidence that would support this so-called alternate version.

He said it would be reckless to give the nation, especially the families of the victims of the Mamasapano incident, false hopes when nothing concrete to support the claim has been presented.

READ MORE...

He added that details of the supposed alternate version must be revealed to dispel any speculations.

Senator Grace Poe earlier said she is considering reopening the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano massacre in light of the President’s remarks.

Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, has already submitted her committee report on the incident to the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Palace on Sunday said President Aquino wants “the complete truth” about the Jan. 25 Mamasapano masscre to be revealed.

“It is the President himself who clearly said it during a forum,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in an interview over state-run dzRB.

Malacañang had earlier confirmed that Filipino bomb-maker Basit Usman, the target of a massive government dragnet since the Jan. 25 Mamasapano mission, is dead.

Police Director Benjamin Magalong said two Moro leaders, including a member of MILF’s side in the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, confirmed Usman’s death. With Sandy Araneta


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE