“He is coming home now, but inside the casket”

CAMP SIONGCO, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/27 January) — The bodies of two Moro members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF) who were killed along with 42 others in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday, were transported to Zamboanga City on board a commercial van for immediate burial.

PO3 Jedsing Asjali and PO2 Amman Esmula, both Tausugs were boarded on a white van at noon for the eight-hour travel to Zamboanga.

OFF TO ZAMBOANGA. Relatives of one of the SAF members accompany one of the slain members of the Special Action Force in Mamasapano, en route to Zamboanga City for burial. MindaNews photo by Ferdinandh B. Cabrera
OFF TO ZAMBOANGA. Relatives of one of the SAF members accompany one of the slain members of the Special Action Force in Mamasapano, en route to Zamboanga City for burial. MindaNews photo by Ferdinandh B. Cabrera

“We need to bury them soon, we are running out of time, I can’t wait anymore for the forensic procedures,” Jemar, Asjali’s elder brother, said. Jemar is an Army sergeant based in South Cotabato.

Ellen Cordero, wife of another slain police commando, PO2 Roger Cordero, said her husband phoned her a day before the clash. “He became sweet and whispered to me he misses me so much.”

“He promised to get home this month because he was not able go home last December,” she said.

“He is coming home now, but inside the casket,” Cordero lamented. The Corderos have a nine-year old son.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, 6th Army Division commander Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan and classmates of the slain cops paid their respects to the remaining 42 victims at the morgue. They also met the families and sent message of condolences.

A C-130 aircraft is expected to arrive tomorrow to transport the caskets to their respective destinations.

Mangudadadu extended 10,000 pesos for each slain elite commando from his personal funds.

“I was deeply saddened to see them, it reminds me of my painful experience but I told the family of the Muslim cops to let the forensics procedure take place just in case a legal battle comes next,” the governor said.

“I call for sobriety, let’s be calm. I’m confident the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front can handle this issue,” he added.

Mangudadatu said local leaders, especially the mayor, should have informed authorities about the presence of high-value targets in his town.

Mamasapano Mayor Tahiruddin Benzar  said he was shocked when  he found out the the wanted terrorists are reportedly staying in his town.

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza also expressed also her condolences to the families of the slain cops.

“My heart bleeds for them, we must not forget the series of bombings that occurred in the province brought about by the proliferation of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Device), whether motivated by the bounty or breach of ceasefire, our elite forces were going after the two notorious bomb makers. Are we all for peace and justice?” she asked.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman called on government and the MILF and all stakeholders of peace not to let Sunday’s tragedy derail the peace process.

He said he believes it was a misencounter and somebody must be answerable for the lapses.

“As stakeholders we have to campaign more on the passage of the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), we must guard the gains in the ongoing peace process,” he said.  (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)

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