BOI, MILF to release reports on Mamasapano probes this week  

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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/09 March) – The Board of Inquiry of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Special Investigative Commission (SIC) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are set to submit within this week their reports on their respective investigations into the January 25 Mamasapano tragedy that caused the death of 67 persons – 44 from the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF), 18 from the MILF, and five civilians.

The BOI last week said it was going to submit its findings Monday but BOI chief Benjamin Magalong, concurrent head of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) asked for three more days to complete their findings.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said they would submit this week the special probe team’s findings to the International Monitoring Team (IMT) as is the protocol in its peace process with the government (GPH).

No interviews

Magalong in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel said some key players in the operation, including former PNP Chief Alan Purisima and an MILF commander, declined to be interviewed. Purisima gave only a sworn affidavit and a list of his text messages with President Aquino.

Magalong said they also tried to interview President Aquino through Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas but received no answer.

ABS-CBN News quoted Magalong as saying that they are aware the three-day extension will be subject to “a lot of speculations, a lot of insinuations.” But he assured the public that the extension is necessary to ensure the quality of their investigation and their report.

“Ang kredibilidad po ng buong PNP ang nakataya at hindi po natin isasakripisyo ito” (The credibility of the entire PNP is at stake here and we will not sacrifice that), he said.

Magalong also stressed that their probe is merely “fact-finding” and “not prosecutorial.”

Oplan Exodus was launched early morning of January 25 by operatives of the PNP-SAF purportedly to serve the warrants of arrest on Zulkifli bin hir, a Malaysian national alleged to be behind several bombing attacks, and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman.

The operation, however, was not coordinated with the provincial and regional police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the ceasefire mechanisms of the government-MILF peace process.

90% finished

Ustadz Said Zendab, chair of the MILF Central Committee’s Committee on Finance and concurrent head of the MILF’s Special Investigative Commission told MindaNews over the weekend that they were “90%” finished with the probe and would be ready to submit it this week.

In a press conference in Camp Darapanan on January 28, three days after the Mamasapano tragedy, Murad said they were “looking within two weeks to come up with the findings.”

He told MindaNews over the weekend that the investigation was delayed because “some of the resource persons were no longer in the area so we had to find them.”

He said some of the witnesses had evacuated to other areas.

“We are targeting next week to release the executive summary,” he said, adding the report would be handed over to the IMT “because this is an issue of ceasefire violation so the authority is IMT. We will submit to IMT and then IMT can release to both panels.”

The IMT also made its own investigation but has yet to complete it.

“From the other group”

Murad said among the initial findings is that the man who shot the injured SAF (Special Action Force) commando in the video that went viral was not a member of the MILF ‘s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force (BIAF).

“Initially ang finding namin is this happened after our men had withdrawn from the area,” Murad said. He explained that their men left the area at around 2 p.m. when they were told to disengage due to the ceasefire. The video, he said, was taken “very late afternoon so wala na doon yung mga tauhan namin (our men were no longer there) .

The firearm of the slain SAF commando was among the 16 firearms the MILF turned over to the government through the CCCH and the IMT.

Murad acknowledged the firearm was taken by an MILF member but maintained that another person shot the SAF personnel.

He said they have identified the person who killed the SAF policeman. “They’re from the other group,” he said. He declined to name the “other group.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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