A video that has gone viral and showing members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) finishing off wounded members of the Special Action Force (SAF) proved that their actions were “plain and simple murder” the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday.
The six-minute video uploaded in Facebook and other social networking sites showed how the MILF separatist rebels shot the SAF police commandos at close range.
Supt. Rey Arino, commanding officer of the 5th SAF Company, confirmed that one of the commandos being shot by a rebel in the video was a member of the 55th Special Action Company, the SAF unit that served as a blocking force.
The video, believed recorded from a cell phone by one of the attackers, showed only his hand holding a .45-caliber pistol and shooting at a fallen police commando until he was dead. The wounded man’s patch and uniform identified him as a member of the elite SAF.
The unidentified gunman then went on to strip other dead policemen of their combat equipment and gear as he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
The clip also showed other gunmen taking turns in stripping more fallen commandos of their weapons and uniforms while shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they ran toward river banks where the sound of automatic gunfire intensified and slowly faded after several minutes.
The area was believed to be in the village of Tukanalipao in Maguindanao’s Mamasapano town where 44 police commandos died fighting MILF and BIFF rebels on January 25 while they were on a mission to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.
“[What you will see in the video is not pretty]. We are still investigating [if the video that has gone]viral [is part of the]Mamasapano incident. But as it is, it is plain and simple murder,” PNP spokesman and Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said.
According to Cerbo, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group is coordinating with the PNP’s anti-cyber crime group to authenticate the video.
The official said the video added injury to the already bruised feelings of the PNP, which up to now is mourning the loss of the 44 SAF troops.
“Personally, yung effect ng video na yun ay masakit. Dapat may managot dito [That video really hurt us. Someone should answer for this],” Cerbo added.
The Department of Justice also directed the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Cybercrime Division to validate the authenticity of the video.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the video could be used as evidence once it was validated.
“Kung totoo na SAF yan and ganun nga ang ginawa sa kanila, certainly, kailangan talaga imbestigahan nang husto at panagutin, alamin kung sino-sino ang may kagagawan nyan [If it is true that the SAF commandos were treated that way, it certainly has to be investigated and make those responsible for such acts answerable] because acts of cruelty or acts of atrocities at any setting are quite condemnable, completely unacceptable and, therefore, must be dealt with severely by our laws especially penal laws,” de Lima added.
She said even if the government and the MILF are in a peace process, it does not mean that those who cruelly killed the SAF commandos cannot be prosecuted.
Col. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), agreed that the SAF members were brutally and mercilessly finished off based on the video.
“It is very disturbing to say the least. It is clear proof of the brutal execution of the police officers. We appeal to the public to be circumspect and respect the grieving families whose feelings we should be mindful of,” Padilla said in a statement.
The elite police team was part of a secret mission to capture Marwan in his hideout deep inside MILF territory.
Marwan was killed by the commandos.
The team was heading back to rejoin over 300 other commandos deployed outside the village when MILF forces attacked them, sparking a daylong battle that also left 18 rebels and seven civilians dead.
The video shared by Zaldy Balds Suson on his Facebook page went viral on Facebook and drew angry comments from those who watched the clip.
It was unknown how Suson got hold of the clip but other Facebook accounts also posted the same video.
“And you say you want peace? You don’t even respect humans and you don’t act like humans. No wonder your place is like hell,” wrote Son Retamalliv.
WinYeon Nam said: “Sana sa susunod na bumagyo, Jan sa mga bwisit na lungga ng mga yan! Tamaan pa sana ng kidlat. Mga dimonyo [I hope that the next typhoon will drive the rebels to their rat holes. I also hope that lightning will strike them. They are devils].”
The MILF did not issue a statement about the video clip.
WITH JOMAR CANLAS