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Iqbal: Shooter in Mamasapano video worse than terrorist

MANILA, Philippines – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said he has not seen the viral video of the brutal killing of a Special Action Force (SAF) commando in Mamasapano. But he said he has seen enough in the newspapers to condemn it. (READ: Battalion chief confirms SAF member in Mamasapano video)

"I agree with Madam Honorable Senator Grace Poe that... these are monsters and not people," Iqbal said at the resumption of the Senate hearing on Mamasapano on Thurday, February 12.

Senator Alan Cayetano, who mentioned the viral video in the hearing, pressed Iqbal: "You agree that whoever did this is a terrorist?"

Iqbal replied: "I think if there is a word more than terrorist, it can be more than that." 

At this point, Cayetano thanked Iqbal. "That you for that. I think that will make people realize that we can find a common definition," the senator said.

The gruesome video is spreading in the social media and has sparked outrage. (READ: Don't share Mamasapano video, AFP asks netizens)

The shooter in the video is widely believed to be a Moro rebel. The SAF battalion commander confirmed that the man in the video was one of his men from the 55th SAF company, which was caught in a gun battle with MILF troops on January 25 in Mamasapano.

Earlier, Cayetano accused the MILF of having links to terrorist groups. The senator cited a 2007 US report showing former US President George Bush's concerns about the MILF's links to the Jemaah Islamiyah. 

Cayetano used to be a signatory to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is meant to implement the peace agreement between the government and the MILF. He has officially withdrawn his signature following the Mamasapano clash. 

Iqbal lamented Cayetano's claim in a statement he read earlier in the hearing. "We condemn terrorism. To tag MILF as a terroist is unfair," Iqbal said. (READ: Full text of Iqbal's statement)

Iqbal said an investigation is still ongoing to determine what really happened in the Mamasapano clashes. "[The] delicate task of who did what cannot be immediately blamed on the MILF. We need to investigate," he said. But he vowed his group will run after the terrorist who reportedly managed to escape the January 25 attack, Abdul Basit Usman.

Iqbal said the clashes between the SAF and the MILF 105th Base Command were a "misencounter," a term that Senator Miriam Santiago opposed. "Parehong malakas ang armas. Mahirap paghiwalayin," Iqbal explained on why it took hours to establish a ceasefire that day.

Iqbal: We have to find the truth.

Senator Santiago: There are many versions of truth

Iqbal: There is only one truth. We should find it even if it hurts.

Iqbal said the MILF is serious about the peace talks and noted how there has been no firefight since 2011, and that the ceasefire was only broken on January 25. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com