COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/03 February) – A police officer who is a veteran of armed conflict in Maguindanao described the clash in Mamasapano town on Jan. 25 as a classic case of “pintakasi” or an encounter where government troops are pitted against various armed groups in the locality.
“Pinakasi” is a local jargon for collective work.
The officer, a commando who holds the rank of inspector, claimed that every time government forces operate in a particular Moro, they would encounter members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other armed groups fighting side by side with each other.
“The enemy of one Moro armed group becomes the enemy of everybody,” the officer who wished to be called Inspector Jay said.
Inspector Jay said he was involved in several previous law enforcement operations in Maguindanao and it was always like that.
“Pintakasi occurred when our comrades-in-arms entered Barangay Tukanalipao [in Mamasapano] for the law enforcement against high profile targets,” he said in Filipino.
He showed anger and pain over the incident as many of the fatalities were his batch mates and classmates at the Philippine National Police Academy.
Forty-four PNP-SAF members, 18 MILF rebels and four civilians died in the law enforcement operation aimed against suspected Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir aka “Marwan” and his Filipino cohort Abdul Basit Usman in Mamasapano on Jan. 25.
“I could only imagine that what happened in the morning of that fateful Jan. 25 was similar to the experience of our colleagues in that video,” he said, referring to a video posted in a social media site showing Moro rebels and SAF personnel in combat.
“Reinforcement came so our colleagues got out of the entrapment alive,” he said, referring to the same video.
“Lawless elements live in a community where the MILF also operate… so when law enforcers clash with one group they become common enemies and easy targets,” he added.
Inspector Jay said it is common knowledge among law enforcers that the subject of a warrant of arrest lives in a community where he has so many relatives and friends who are also armed.
He said a law enforcement in Maguindanao needs huge manpower and resources unlike in Luzon and the Visayas where serving a warrant needs only a few police officers.
He said he was dismayed over the President Aquino’s televised message to the nation on January 28, three days after the clash.
He lamented that they are currently experiencing low morale esprit de corps. “We came here to help and contribute to the attainment of peace but that desire is gone. Our troops lost the burning desire especially since our leaders could not stand for us.”
Inspector Jay said he and his ‘mistah’ who are still assigned in Maguindanao are ready to go on mass leave as planned by the PNPA Alumni Association to protest national government’s perceived inability to protect law enforcers when it was most needed.
MILF chair Murad Ebrahim explained on national TV that since members of armed groups in a particular community are relatives, it is to be expected that they would help each other whenever armed strangers enter their place. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)