MANILA, Philippines – The Senate resumed on Tuesday, February 10, its probe on the botched anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that killed 44 police commandos, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and at least 7 civilians.
On the second day of the hearing, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continued to point fingers at each other on the botched operation. Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II questioned why the AFP was unable to immediately send help to the elite cops, while the military insisted that it could have done more if the SAF had prior coordination with its units in the area.
The two camps also gave contrasting views on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and expert Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir known as Marwan.
At the hearing, AFP Chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr said it was only the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – an MILF breakaway group opposed to the peace process – that coddled Marwan. However, PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina said that the MILF had provided safe haven to Marwan, who had evaded arrest in the Philippines since 2003.
Meanwhile, former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima revealed in the hearing that he indeed kept Espina and the Interior Secretary out of the loop in the high-level operation to maintain “operational security.”
Senator Alan Cayetano questioned the sincerity of the MILF in the peace process, as he showed a Powerpoint presentation citing books of terrorism experts and articles of Rappler Executive Editor Maria Ressa on the rebel group’s ties with Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Chief Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles took exception to Cayetano’s statements, and passionately defended the peace process.
The hearing was again snubbed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal sending a letter to Senator Grace Poe that he cannot attend the hearing until the MILF completes its own investigation into the deadly encounter.
Below is the transcript of the February 10 hearing.
Below are stories from the February 10 Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash: