Manila Bulletin

Ma­mas­apano un­der ‘siege’ again

- By ELINANDO B. CINCO Crime · Incidents · Politics · Philippine National Police · Mamasapano

“THERE’S an al­ter­na­tive ver­sion of the events in the Ma­mas­apano in­ci­dent,” the Pres­i­dent told a shocked au­di­ence dur­ing a pri­vate media fo­rum fort­night ago.

The curt an­nounce­ment left ev­ery­body fall­ing from his seat. Al­most promptly, and ex­pect­edly, the public was in the mood of en­gag­ing in wild spec­u­la­tion – did the 44 SAF fight­ers shoot them­selves to death, or the tar­get, wanted bomber Mar­wan, com­mit sui­cide?

“The only truth on the Ma­mas­apano is Mar­wan was killed by his body­guards,” vol­un­teered chief MILF ne­go­tia­tor Mo­hagher Iqbal a few days af­ter the rev­e­la­tion by the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive. If so, the public wanted to know whether the close-in aides had ear­lier be­came po­lice as­sets.

“SAF com­man­dos killed Mar­wan,” if the po­lice of­fi­cials were to go by the find­ings of the board of in­quiry of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice.

“Same here,” if probers of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Public Or­der which con­ducted a se­ries of public hear­ing were to join in the al­ter­ca­tion.

Now the public has be­come more per­plexed af­ter the Jan­uary 25 tragedy that saw 44 Spe­cial Force com­man­dos and some MILF fight­ers die in that Maguin­danao botched op­er­a­tion.

Who will the peo­ple be­lieve as the one that is telling the truth?

The pres­i­den­tial dis­clo­sure two weeks ago was just as bizarre as some of the episodes un­cov­ered dur­ing the Se­nate hear­ing, the PNP Board of In­quiry re­port and news­pa­per ac­counts.

Fur­ther, what could be more pre­sumed doubt­ful than the find­ings of the MILF in­ves­ti­ga­tion that we have not seen.

Flash­back – The Pres­i­dent’s so­called “al­ter­na­tive ver­sion,” it ap­pears, was es­sen­tially based on the pho­to­graph of an os­ten­si­bly life­less Mar­wan in­side a hut that served as his liv­ing quar­ters.

Ob­vi­ously, the bullet holes in­side the hut, the wounds of Mar­wan and his pool of blood in­vited quizzi­cal posers. “Those must be re­solved,” he said. And clar­i­fied, I might add.

But the MILF chief ne­go­tia­tor in­sisted, “Mar­wan was killed by his se­cu­rity aide.” And his bomb­shell re­mark: “He was al­ready dead when the SAF ar­rived in his hut.” These are parts of his state­ment to media on Septem­ber 12.

Here’s why he be­lieved Mar­wan’s aide fin­ished off the Malaysian bomb ex­pert, as men­tioned in the group’s own in­ves­ti­ga­tion a copy of which was fur­nished the gov­ern­ment:

“There were few bullet holes in the wanted man’s hut. The tra­jec­tory of the bul­lets in­di­cated the fa­tal shot did not come from shots fired out­side his dwelling, as the holes were roughly 146 cen­time­ters above the floor,” the MILF re­port was said to re­veal.

“So the shot that killed him must have been fired at close range, while Mar­wan was ly­ing on the floor.” it con­tin­ued.

The PNP board of in­quiry re­port: Di­rec­tor Ben­jamin Ma­ga­long, for­mer CIDG chief, who headed the board is stand­ing by the po­lice doc­u­ments com­piled and sub­mit­ted to some ap­pro­pri­ate gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

He in­sisted SAF com­man­dos killed Mar­wan in­side his hut.

The board did not re­ceive any ev­i­dence from the MILF that would sup­port its claim. Any­body can sim­ply gen­er­ate claims, al­le­ga­tions or false in­for­ma­tion, and make them ap­pear to be true, Ma­ga­long said.

He fur­ther­more noted that the MILF never men­tioned its find­ings at the Se­nate and House in­quiries. Its al­le­ga­tion was an in­sult to the PNP’s cred­i­bil­ity.

Re­call that the BBL was be­ing con­sid­ered and eval­u­ated in sep­a­rate com­mit­tee hear­ings in the Se­nate and the House when the tragedy struck. The armed skir­mish im­per­iled the prospects of the pro­posed mea­sure from be­ing en­acted into law.

Not a few ex­pressed their dis­may. They doubted the sin­cer­ity of the MILF in stand­ing by their ap­par­ently docile pledges be­fore and af­ter the in­ci­dent. The re­pul­sive event some­how gave pro­pri­ety to the re­mark, “We told you so,” that be­came wide­spread.

And as an old trite ex­pres­sion among the­atri­cal crit­ics goes, “the plot thick­ens.”

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