COTABATO CITY – Kin of police commandos who were killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters demanded that rebel leader Murad Ebrahim, now Chief Minister of the Muslim autonomous region, to surrender those behind the gruesome murders of 44 members of the Special Action Force in Maguindanao’s Mamasapano town.
The commandos were on a clandestine mission deep inside MILF territory to capture Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir, who was eventually killed in the operation in Tukanalipao village on January 25, 2015.
Police commandos were on their way to re-join their more than 300 SAF members after killing Zulkifli and cutting off his finger for DNA analysis when MILF forces, aided by BIFF militants, attacked them and sparking daylong clashes. At least 18 MILF and five BIFF were killed in the fierce fighting that the Aquino government claimed was a mis-encounter.
Barely a month later, the MILF which signed an interim peace deal with Manila, surrendered at least 16 weapons it took from slain police commandos. The surrender of the weapons further bolstered accusations by lawmakers and human rights groups that MILF rebels had finished off wounded commandos and collected their guns, among others.
The weapons were handed over to the police, but SAF sources claimed the weapons had been tampered and that many of its parts were either taken out or replaced with defective mechanism. Because of the killings, lawmakers shelved the Bangasamoro Basic Law (BBL) until investigations into the deadly clashes between SAF and MILF is completed.
The BBL was eventually passed in the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, but families of the slain commandos were still crying out for justice. The MILF said it will not surrender those involved in the slayings.
Just recently, police forces killed 3 of Ebrahim’s rebels who were accused of murder after they engaged the lawmen in a firefight in Lanao del Sur’s Madamba town. More rebels engaged police in a gun battle in the villages of Tabaran and Illian.
Four policemen and two civilians were wounded in the clashes, the Western Mindanao Command said. “Three MILF elements with warrants of arrest for murder were slain during the law enforcement operations conducted by the Philippine National Police in the villages of Illian and Tabaran, all in Madamba in Lanao del Sur at 10 a.m. today. The PNP troops were to serve warrants of arrest when they engaged in a firefight with MILF elements led by a certain Abu Hanif.”
“Four PNP personnel and two civilians were wounded in the encounter, based on information received from army units in the area. They are now recuperating in the hospital,” the military said. Ebrahim’s group signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014 and the rebel leader became the chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao following a plebiscite early this year. (Mindanao Examiner)
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