MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 24 Sept) – Municipal Mayor Benzar Ampatuan expressed concerns over the safety of innocent civilians in his town tagged by a government panel probing the January 25 Mamasapano carnage as among those responsible for the killing of 44 Special Action Force troopers.
He said there are innocent civilians identified with the Ampatuans but tagged as members of private armed group (PAGs) who may have been among the 90 individuals charged by the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Prosecution Service.
“I will help them. In the first place, I personally know they were not involved,” the mayor vowed.
Ampatuan also expressed willingness to help government authorities in identifying those charged who are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Aside from the 44 SAF operatives killed, the MILF also suffered 17 casualties. Three civilians were likewise killed in what is now known as the Mamasapano massacre.
The government forces were after Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan,” wanted by both the Philippines and United States governments.
On Tuesday, charges of multiple murder, direct assault and theft were filed against 90 persons, 26 of whom were MILF members, 12 from the BIFF and 52 belonging to private armed groups.
Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, warned there could be another “Mamasapano massacre” if government security forces would enter the BIFF bailiwick to serve the warrants of arrest.
Mama insisted that the BIFF “only defended our turf” when the police elite force entered Barangay Tukanalipao.
“The government must be joking when it said it has warrants of arrest for the BIFF. They cannot get any of those charged,” Mama said.