Man roaming around Mamasapano clash site held by MILF

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (MindaNews/06 February) – A man who was found roaming around the site of the Jan. 25 encounter between police commandos and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was held Wednesday night by the rebel group.

Allan Masayon, 40, who claimed he was from Barangay Mambatangan, Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon was held briefly by members of the MILF 105th Base Command. He was suspected to be not in his right mind.

105th Base commander Guma later ordered his men to hand Masayon over to the government-MILF joint ceasefire panel.

A member of the MILF 105th base command said the man claimed he did not know he was in Mamasapano, the site of the bloody Jan. 25 encounter that left 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force, 18 MILF rebels and at least four civilians dead.

The SAF troopers were on a mission to serve arrest warrants against suspected Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir allias Marwan and Filipino bomb maker and Abu Sayyaf member Basit Usman.

On orders of 105th base Commander Guma, Masayon was turned over to the government-MILF joint ceasefire panel.

Diokarno Gandawali, a member of the MILF ceasefire monitoring team said local residents have been vigilant since the bloody encounter.

“Ang mga tao dito, alert talaga. ‘Pag may bagong mukha, sinusubaybayan. Alam mo na bago lang nagkagiyera dito,” he said.

An MILF sub-commander said Masayon, who wore maong short pants and a black long-sleeved shirt, was not harmed but handed over to the ceasefire monitoring team and to the police.

Masayon said he was unaware he was in Barangay Tukanalipao, a place he has not been to or known of since birth. He did not know it was the site of the bloody clash either.

“I attended a walkathon and the message tells me I should go here,” Masayon told the MILF members who surrounded him at gunpoint at past 7 p.m. Wednesday. The rebels suspected he was a spy and gathering information for the government.

More than a week after the bloody carnage, Gandawali said the MILF remained suspicious that there could be another SAF survivor still within the vicinity.

The Mamasapano PNP had turned over Masayon to the Maguindanao police office.

Meanwhile, town mayor Benzar Ampatuan welcomed with jubilation reports that Marwan was confirmed dead based on the result of a DNA test made on a biological sample given by Philippine authorities to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A SAF operative who perished in the clash reportedly cut off the index finger from a body believed to be Marwan’s, and his comrades succeeded in smuggling it out of the clash site.

Reports quoted the FBI as saying the biological sample matched with the DNA of Marwan’s brother who was being detained at a US facility in Guantanamo, Cuba.

“Mababawasan ang sakit ng ulo natingo hindi na tayo matatakot na lumabas kasi wala na yung ulo so natutuwa tayo na na-confirm na napaslang na siya,” Ampatuan told Mindanews Thursday.

But the mayor lamented allegations that a private army reportedly maintained by the Ampatuan clan took part in the Mamasapano clash.

He said members of his clan were among the victims of bomb attacks done by Marwan and Usman.

“This is the problem here, some sectors are muddling the issue with politics, I hope it will stop now. First and foremost we should pity the slain policemen, the MILF and the civilians, we must move on,” he told reporters. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)

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