‘My daughter died in my arms’: Civilian victims of Mamasapano clash cope with pain

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (MindaNews/26 Feb) – Civilians who were wounded in the clash a month ago between Moro rebels and personnel of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in Barangay Tukanalipao were still trying to overcome the trauma caused by the incident.

Tot Pananggulon, who lost his 5-year old daughter, Sarah, showed to reporters the gunshot wound on his right shoulder that had started to heal.

“My daughter died in my arms,” Pananggulon, who appeared to have lost weight and wan, recalled while staring at the distance.

He said his wound was now all right but could not get over the death of his daughter, who was “hit by a stray bullet”.

The Jan. 25 clash resulted in the death of 44 SAF troopers, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters, and at least five civilians.

The police commandos went to Mamasapano to get terror suspects Zulkipli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman, for whose death or capture the US had offered bounties of $5 million and $1 million, respectively. Marwan was reportedly killed but Usman escaped.

Pananggulon added his elder child has remained traumatized and refused to come out of the house or see strangers.

Saada Taib, 20, resident of Tukanalipao, pointed to the scar of a gunshot wound on her leg.

A deaf-mute, Taib gestured that when she was hit in the leg and it started bleeding she pulled out the bullet.

An interpreter said the girl even showed the bullet to her father who was shocked.

Like the victims, residents here said they are hoping the wounds caused by the bloody clash would heal in time.

Pananggulon and Taib meanwhile received cash assistance amounting to P50,000 from the representatives of boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

“I am happy you value us, especially coming from my idol and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and Gov. Toto (Mangudadatu),” Pananggulon said, but added the money could not compensate for the life of her child.

“The father would not like to even think the cash assistance was a payment for the life of her child,” Lynette Estandarte, Maguindanao special concerns office chief, said.

Taib’s father said the financial assistance will be used for her further medication.

Pacquiao and Mangudadatu also promised to give financial aid to four widows who lost their husbands in the encounter. (Ferdinand Cabrera/MindaNews)