Incoming DOJ chief vows to resolve Mamasapano case
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II committed yesterday to resolve the criminal charges filed against 90 commanders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups tagged in the killing of Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last year.

Aguirre cited the apparent delays in the resolution of the complex crime of direct assault with murder complaint that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed against the MILF, BIFF and other armed groups.

He said he knows the case by heart, being a lawyer of former SAF chief director Getulio Napeñas.

“Charges were filed against Napeñas but the culprits who killed the SAF are still roaming free,” he said, referring to the indictment of the police general for neglect of duty.

Last week, acting Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas claimed there were “certain sensitivities” being considered in the case.

“It is hard to commit. There are certain sensitivities that we are trying to protect. We want to do what is best for everybody as much as possible,” Caparas said without specifying when the case will be resolved.

An insider said the government is currently engaged in talks with the MILF and decided not to release the resolution on the Mamasapano case so as not to offend the rebel group.

The DOJ concluded the preliminary investigation in January and has yet to release the resolution.

Caparas had said the resolution would be released in February. After a month, he said there was a slight delay and that the resolution would be out in March.

At a press conference last month, he was asked for an update on the case and replied, “Let’s not talk about that, please.”

Caparas earlier claimed that the DOJ has done its part to speed up the resolution of the case despite the fact that the preliminary investigation took almost one year to complete, with only four of 90 respondents able to answer the charges.

The DOJ official said they were aware of the cry for justice of the families of the slain SAF men.

Of the 90 respondents, only four have submitted counter-affidavits and denied the charges. They were alleged MILF field commander Pendatun Utek Makakua, village chief Mustapha Tatak and civilians Lakiman Dawaling and Khalim Keda.

JACLYN JOSE
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