COTABATO CITY (MindaNews /22 Feb) – A team from the Commission on Human Rights visited the site of the January 25 encounters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Friday in the company of forensic experts.
CHR Chair Etta Rosales and her investigating team visited three areas — Barangays Pidsandawan, Pimbalakan and Tukanalipao — all in Mamasapano, including the house where Malaysian national Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan,” listed on the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “most wanted,” to gather more information.
Rosales said the team coordinated with the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and the local registry office of Mamasapano.
Copies of records of death certificates of the slain members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were also retrieved by the CHR team.
“It is very important that the CHR team has all these documentary and forensic data so we can piece together and complete the puzzle on what really happened on January 25 here,” Rosales told reporters in Barangay Tukanalipao.
“There was much coordinating between us and other government agencies,” she added.
While in Barangay Tukanalipao, Rosales had a dialogue with local leaders and residents who appealed for a stop to all kinds of violence in their communities.
“They have an open letter addressed to the President, to Congress and peace negotiators. They clearly want a total stop to bombings, violence and killings in their communities.
They said it can only be achieved if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed into law,” Rosales said.
The BBL is based on the agreements between the government and MILF peace panels that the status quo is “unacceptable” and that they would work for a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Bangsamoro will be ministerial or parliamentary in form, and is targeted for inauguration by 30 June 2016.
The ARMM on the other hand is deemed abolished when the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) takes over after the ratification of the BBL in a plebiscite.
The CHR chair admitted there was difficulty to determine if human rights violations were really committed against slain Moro rebels and civilians since they have no autopsy reports.
By tradition, Muslims bury the dead within 24 hours without autopsy.
Rosales’ team is also looking at psychological intervention for civilians who have experienced trauma as a result of the tragedy that left 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police, 18 members of the MILF and five civilians dead in the mission to capture Marwan. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)