CAMP SIONGCO, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 28 Jan) – The bodies of two Muslim members of the Special Action Force that suffered from the intense clash on Sunday have been sent to Zamboanga City for immediate burial in accordance with Muslim practice.
Considered as heroes, the remains of PO3 Jedsing Asjali and PO2 Amman Esmula, both Tausugs, were boarded on a white van noon Tuesday for the eight-hour land trip.
“We need to bury them soon. We are out of time. I can’t wait anymore for the forensic procedure to take long,” according to Asjali’s elder brother Jemar, an Army sergeant based in South Cotabato.
Ellen Cordero, wife of another slain police commando PO2 Roger Cordero, has also visited the mortuary area of the military camp and could hardly accept the tragic fate of his loved one. But she said she has prepared herself and their nine-year-old son for the worst because of his husband’s nature of work.
She recalled her husband’s unusual gesture over the phone a day before the brutal clash.
“He became sweet and whispered to me he missed me so much,” Ellen said.
“He promised to get home this month because he was not able go home last December. He is coming home now, but inside the casket,” Cordero lamented.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, and classmates of the slain cops paid their tribute to the victims at the morgue. They met the families and sent messages of condolences.
Mangudadatu has extended P10,000 for each slain policeman from his personal money.
“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 its place just in case a legal battle comes next,” the governor said.
“I call for sobriety, let’s be calm and I’m confident the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front can handle this issue,” he added.
Asked about how the local elected officials handled the issue of allegedly harboring known high-value targets in the Liguasan Marsh, Mangudadatu said the elected leaders, particularly the mayor, should have informed authorities.
Mamasapano Mayor Tahiruddin Benzar Ampatuan said he was shocked when later found out that suspected high profile terrorists were staying in the inner part of his town.
Gov. Emmylou Mendoza, of neighboring North Cotabato province, expressed 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 the ceasefire agreement, our elite forces were going after the two notorious bomb makers. Are we all for peace and justice?” she said in her statement.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman called on government and the MILF and all stakeholders of peace not to let Sunday’s tragedy derail the peace process.
He still believes it was a misencounter and somebody must be answerable to the lapses.
“As stakeholders of peace we have to campaign more on the creation into law of the BBL [Bangsamoro Basic Law], we must guard the gains in the ongoing peace process,” he said.