ARMM officials mark Mamasapano Tragedy anniversary

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/25 January) – Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) commemorated Monday the first anniversary of the Mamasapano Tragedy with prayers for similar incidents never to happen again.

On Jan. 25 last year, 44 police Special Action Force troopers, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and five civilians died in an encounter in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town in Maguindanao. The SAF operatives came to get Malaysian bomber Zulkipli bn Hir alias Marwan, who died in the dawn raid.

In a program held after Monday’s flag-raising ceremony at the ARMM executive building. Bai Norambao Utto, who graduated valedictorian at Tukanalipao National High School two months after the carnage, led the youth in offering prayers that the same incident won’t happen again.

She said the Mamasapano debacle should be the last bloodshed to occur in her place which she described as having moved on.

She said ARMM officials helped prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

“I thank and appreciate those who condoled with the people of Mamasapano, those who offered help in cash and in kinds and those who continue to encourage us to move forward amid diversity,” Utto said during the program.

At the same time in Tukanalipao, families of SAF troopers from the Cordillera led by Vicente Gumuwang held an indigenous ritual in a cornfield in remembrance of their dead kin.

Fourteen of the SAF troopers who died were natives of the Cordillera region.

The ARMM held a medical and dental mission and a school feeding activity in Tukanalipao as part of the commemoration.

Bai Intan Ampatuan, ARMM regional planning head, said the Mamasapano incident had taught “all of us a lesson, that there was something wrong and that it should never happen again.”

Meanwhile, Aga Khan, ARMM chair of the Commission on Human Rights, said they will soon come out with the results of a separate investigation [of the encounter].

“We are in the stage of deliberating together with the national CHR on what really happened,” he said. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)