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Recto to MILF: What about SAF 44’s personal items?

Angela Casauay
Recto to MILF: What about SAF 44’s personal items?
'If Mamasapano was a ‘misencounter’ between two supposed partners in peace, then the 'killer keeper' principle does not apply. These can never be spoils of war nor trophies of battles,' Senator Ralph Recto says

MANILA, Philippines – Aside from weapons, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should also return the personal items of the elite cops who were killed in the Mamasapano clash, Senator Ralph Recto said Wednesday, February 18.  

In a statement, Recto said getting back personal effects, such as cellphones and wedding rings, would be important for the loved ones of the fallen cops. 

“If Mamasapano was a ‘misencounter’ between two supposed partners in peace, then the ‘killer keeper’ principle does not apply. These can never be spoils of war nor trophies of battles,” Recto said. 

The MILF on Wednesday returned 16 firearms of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force seized during the deadly clash between elite cops and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25. (READ: The Mourners of Mamasapano)

The turnover of the SAF weapons is one of the demands that the government has asked the MILF to do to prove its commitment to the peace process.

Weeks after the clash, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal announced that the group was returning the arms and “retrievable personal effects” of the PNP-SAF in a Senate hearing on February 10. 

A total of 63 firearms were lost during the Mamasapano clash, according to police records

The PNP-SAF also lost 139 body armors and tactical vests, 184 hand grenades, 17 night vision goggles, 4 binoculars, 10 GPS tracker units, and one infrared equipment during the operation. 

“If the return of weapons will be done in many ‘gives,’ I share the wish of our heroes’ loved ones that the next installment will include their personal effects,” Recto said. 

Iqbal told reporters during the joint press conference with government officials Wednesday that the MILF will continue to retrieve SAF firearms in the possession of its members. 

A total of 44 PNP-SAF members, 18 MILF rebels and 3 civilians died in the disastrous operation to arrest wanted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan, and Abdulbasit Usman on January 25. 

Marwan was killed in the operation but forces from the MILF, breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups located in the area surrounded the SAF members on their way out. 

Recto said the weapons in the possession of the BIFF must also be accounted for.

The BIFF, however, said it has no plans to return the firearms.

Meanwhile, an unidentified civilian on Monday, February 16, turned over SAF equipment to authorities, including a Kevlar helmet, a two-way radio set and a ballistic plate. – Rappler.com

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