Congress has thrown its support behind a move of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to press multiple-murder charges against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and other armed fighters involved in the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January25.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro City), chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), on Friday noted that charging the SAF killers with direct assault with murder complex does not give justice to the fallen police troops..
“The case should be multiple murder. To say direct assault with murder complex somehow lessens the murder aspect,” Rodriguez, a lawyer, pointed out.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier announced that the alleged killers of the SAF and 17 civilians would be facing murder and theft charges based on her agency’s initial probe.
De Lima, however, clarified that she would defer filing of charges against the alleged assailants since the suspects could also be liable under Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
She cited wounded commandos being finished off by the rebels even if they were already raising their arms in surrender.
The attack against the SAF troops came after they successfully neutralized terrorist and bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, in Mamasapano.
Marwan’s deputy, Filipino terrorist Abdul Basit Usman, escaped.
Rodriguez endorsed de Lima’s move.
“To be finished off even if you are incapable of fighting back is certainly different from murder,” he said.
Rodriguez earlier argued that the MILF—which signed a peace deal with the government in March 2014 that gave birth to the proposed BBL—cannot invoke the ceasefire agreement that it signed with the government in case its combatants are charged in connection with the Mamasapano carnage.
“They cannot invoke the ceasefire [agreement]. They have to surrender their people [if charges are filed against them]. That is how we will proceed. President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] has said it. If the results of investigations are in and the Justice department found [the MILF’s]people liable, they would have to step aside,” he said.
“The MILF [rebels]are [still]Filipinos. They were never granted a separate state. We belong to the same territory, the Philippine territory. Mamasapano is a Philippine territory. In criminal law, you are prosecuted where the crime is committed,” Rodriguez added.