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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Mamasapano revisited

The Philippine Star

The Senate may reopen its inquiry into the police commando raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao amid reports that the administration is pursuing new information on the case.

While senators ponder whether they should compel administration officials to disclose what has been described as sensitive new information on the Jan. 25 counterterrorist operation in Maguindanao, this development should also prompt lawmakers to get an update on the efforts to render justice to the 44 police Special Action Force commandos who were slaughtered in the raid.

The operation derailed the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and sealed the ouster of Director General Alan Purisima as chief of the Philippine National Police. Many questions on the raid remain unanswered, starting with the identities of the gunmen who opened fire on the SAF commandos to prevent them from capturing top Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan and his Filipino Jemaah Islamiyah cohort Basit Usman.

The SAF raiders were subjected to such blistering fire that their bodies were mutilated. Video footage and personal accounts indicate that those still breathing were finished off and the dead were then looted of weapons and personal belongings.

All that the public has been told is that the looters and butchers of the 44 SAF commandos belonged to the MILF, its supposed splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and members of a private armed group. The identity of the person maintaining the armed group has not been disclosed by the government.

At the height of public mourning over the SAF 44, President Aquino had demanded that the MILF identify and turn over the killers, return the dead men’s guns and personal belongings, and surrender Usman to authorities. A few dozen guns, several with missing parts, were turned over with fanfare and Usman was later shot dead in an operation that the government has tried to credit to the MILF. The group has denied coddling terrorists but has not shown where the remains of Marwan are buried.

The President himself has not adequately explained why he allowed a police officer suspended for six months for corruption to run such a sensitive operation. All these issues must be clarified even as the government claims to be processing new information relevant to the case. It’s been nearly eight months since the raid, but the SAF 44 and those they left behind are no closer to achieving justice.

BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS BASIT USMAN DIRECTOR GENERAL ALAN PURISIMA FILIPINO JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH MAGUINDANAO MARWAN MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PRESIDENT AQUINO SPECIAL ACTION FORCE USMAN
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