MILF bares some preliminary findings on clash
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2015 - 6:08pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is not done yet with the documentation of its findings on the infamous January 25 "Mamasapano incident," MILF chief negotiator Muhaquer Iqbal said Saturday.

Iqbal said members of their Special Investigative Commission are yet to wrap up their probe on the incident, which shook the now 18-year government-MILF peace overture.

At least 44 police commandos and 18 MILF members were killed in a deadly clash in at least three barangays in Mamasapano on January 25.

RELATED: MILF to De Lima: Get report from KL

A third group, the radical Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, also got involved in the hostilities.

Iqbal, however, said their findings indicated that only 17 MILF rebels were killed in the encounter, not 18 as previously reported.

Iqbal said their investigators also found out that only three, not five civilians perished in the incident.

Iqbal said their findings will first be submitted to Malaysia, through the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT), before it can be transmitted to the peace panel of the government.

Malaysia acts as a conduit for communications between the MILF and the government's peace panel. 

Malaysia, a member-state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including wealthy petroleum exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, has been helping facilitate the government-MILF peace overture since 2003.

"This procedure is based on a bilateral communication protocol set by the government and the MILF many years ago. We have to abide by this procedure," Iqbal said.

The IMT, comprised of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Indonesia, and civilian conflict resolution experts from Japan, Norway and the European Union, has been helping enforce the government-MILF ceasefire in many flashpoint areas in Mindanao for more than a decade now.

"A revalidation of some facts on the incident is still being initiated. There were some circumstances that led to the Mamasapano incident that we need to examine and validate again so we have to send again our investigators to the area to check," Iqbal said.

Iqbal said the on-going military operation against the BIFF in interior barangays in Mamasapano has also caused constraints and delays in their investigation.

The government's law enforcement operation against the BIFF, which is not covered by the July 1997 ceasefire accord between the government and the MILF, started last March 1 and had already caused the dislocation of more than 90,000 villagers.

Members of the MILF in Mamasapano have been relocated by the joint ceasefire committee to designated areas to enable Marine and Army combatants to freely chase BIFF gunmen in the area. 

"These are among some reasons why we have not yet completed our investigation on the Mamasapano incident," Iqbal said.

Iqbal said their report on the incident will mention of the exact location of the hideout of slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, most known as Marwan, and his local cohort, Abdul Basit Usman.

ABDUL BASIT USMAN BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS DE LIMA GOVERNMENT INCIDENT INTERNATIONAL MONITORING TEAM IQBAL LIBYA AND INDONESIA MAMASAPANO MILF
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