MANILA, Philippines – In its second report on the Mamasapano clash, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said no cases can be filed over the deaths of 9 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during the bloody January 25 firefight in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
On Thursday, October 8, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there were no witnesses who could identify the suspects who killed the troopers from the 84th Seaborne Company.
De Lima said that while it was “duly established” that a crime has been committed, the investigating team “failed to find a single credible witness on the identity of those involved in the killing of said commandos.”
It was the 84th SAF company that neutralized Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan in Barangay Pidsandawan on January 25. (READ: When the bullets ran out)
During the covert police operation, a firefight erupted between SAF troopers and fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups.
The bloody clash killed 44 SAF troopers, 18 MILF rebels, and 5 civilians.
Last month, the National Bureau of Investigation filed criminal complaints against 90 individuals over the deaths of 35 members of the SAF’s Special Action Company, the “blocking force” of the operation.
Included in the complaint for the complex crime of direct assault with murder were 26 MILF members, 12 BIFF members, and 52 others who were either unaffiliated or from private armed groups.
Members of the 55th SAC were surrounded by enemy fire in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Police Officer 2 Christopher Robert Lalan, the lone survivor, is accused of killing civilians in a mosque on January 26, a day after the bloody clash. But De Lima said charges cannot be filed against Lalan because of lack of evidence.
“Despite the team’s repeated requests, the MILF or any of the next of kin of the alleged victims failed to submit any proof of death of the supposed victims of PO2 Lalan,” the DOJ said.
The justice secretary also clarified reports of American participation in the Mamasapano incident, saying it was limited only to sharing of intelligence information and medical help. – Katerina Francisco/Rappler.com