IN PHOTOS: Mamasapano a year later
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines—On January 25, 2015, 44 police commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, and 3 civilians lost their lives in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
Troopers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) went here to take down 3 targets: Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir (alias Marwan), Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman, and Malaysian Amin Baco.
The SAF troopers killed Marwan, but the operation triggered a deadly clash with the MILF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs). (READ: Mamasapano survivor: Never for self, always for country)
It has been a year since that fateful day.
Nearly 6 months after the tragedy, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed charges against more than 100 members of the MILF, BIFF, and PAGs.
The MILF countered that government forces violated the peace agreement by failing to disclose and coordinate the police operation well ahead, leading to the bloody clash.
The encounter in Mamasapano and its implications on the peace process are now among the key issues for candidates running in the May elections.
It has also affected the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Since the clash, officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have facilitated the implementation of P100 million worth of development projects in the town.
These include the construction of an 880-meter concrete road from the highway leading to the site of encounter, and a 120-meter steel-wood "peace bridge."
A year later, however, the pain is still fresh for some of the families who live here. The scars of January 25, 2015 run deep.
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
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