Mar 242015
No overkill was committed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Mamasapano incident that led to the deaths of 60 individuals, including 44 commandos on a mission to neutralize suspected terrorists in alleged MILF territory on Jan. 25.

In its 35-page fact-finding report on the Mamasapano operation, the MILF Special Investigative Commission also found no liability on the part of the MILF fighters in the area as the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force failed to coordinate its mission as supposedly mandated in the peace agreement between the government and the rebel group.

“After the initial advantage on the part of the PNP-SAF, the BIAF got the upper hand in the fighting. Their strong points included familiarity with the terrain, their location vis-a-vis their adversaries, their superior number, and the use of the ‘Barrett’,” read the MILF report.

According to the report, the police commandos belonging to the 55th Special Action Company stayed in the cornfield while the [Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF’s military component] were able to cover themselves in the river banks and coconut trees surrounding the cornfield.

“The fighting also became so intense that at one point, the men were shooting at each other with only three-to-four meters between them,” the MILF report read.

“Despite the advantages, the BIAF did not use unnecessary force or employ any method of warfare that violated International Humanitarian Law. Rather, they faced their adversaries employing the weapons that were available to them and using their advantages to the fullest,” it added.

No proof of MILF behind viral video

The fact-finding commission said that reports about mutilation and willful killing were unfounded.

“The viral video of an armed man shooting at close range a man apparently from the PNP-SAF 55 SAC while the latter was lying down on the ground and already wounded, does not clearly show that it was BIAF’s [105th Based Command] responsible for this,” the report said.

“It is a known fact that there are other armed grounds in the area, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups. Any of these groups could have entered the encounter site after the MILF pulled out of the areas after a ceasefire was affected, as was in fact witnessed by the withdrawing 105BC men,” it added.

The report said this was also consistent with the narrative of the Crisis Team that when they entered the area around 3:30 p.m. of Jan. 25 when they sensed the presence of the armed men in the area.

No coordination

In the findings of the MILF’s 35-page reporton the incident, the MILF identified members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force (BIAF) belonging to the MILF’s 105th Brigade Command as involved in the bloody encounter but maintained that the BIAF forces just acted in self-defense.

“As there was no coordination between the government and the MILF through the AHJAG and CCCH mechanisms, the BIAF cannot be faulted for concluding that the PNP-SAF  forces they chanced upon in Sition Amilil were enemies, especially after they were fired upon and after two of their men were shot and killed by the PNP-SAF,” the MILF report read.

The MILF also justified the convergence of the MILF BIAF forces in the area when the firefight errupted. It their respective reports on the Mamasapano incident, PNP Board of Inquiry and the Senate committee on public order has described such practice as “pintakasi” or the act of the Muslims of helping their men involved in a clash, regardless of their group affiliation and clans.

“The operation of the PNP-SAF in Mamasapanpo on January 25, 2015 caught the BIAF forces by surprise. The BIAF forces, mostly from the 105th BC, are residents of Mamasapano, mostly from Barangay Tukanalipao,” the report said.

“The action of some of the men of 105th BC in going to Sitio Amilil, as was their usual practice whenever there are clashes or impending clashes was justified, as the main purpose was to ensure that the clashes do not happen in the populated areas,” it added.

The MILF report also said that the claim of its forces that they just acted in self-defense was “justified”.

“The assertion of the 105BC that it was the 55th SAC  who made first shots is supported by the circumstance at that time. The 55th SAC was already in the cornfield, and it was the 105 BC that was moving in when the first gunshots were fired,” the report said.

“Besides, there was very little illumination at that time (04:30 a.m.), negating the possibility of the moving BIAF to spot the already positioned 55th SAC in the cornfield while the latter had the advantage of having night vision goggles,” the report added. —NB, GMA News

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