• PNoy should treat Mamasapano slaughter as a war crime

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    THE deaths of 44 policemen of the Special Action Force (SAF) in the hands of the Muslim rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is not just a massacre. It is the mass murder of several unarmed and wounded combatants that may constitute a war crime under the “laws or customs of war” (or international humanitarian law).

    A SAF member who survived the battle against hundreds of MILF and BIFF fighters said they were attacked from three directions in an open field near the hideout of wanted international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan.

    “We ran out of ammunition so there was no way we could stop them from coming close,” the policeman said. The SAF commando also disclosed that some of his wounded companions who ran out of ammunition crawled near an irrigation dike, but the rebels finished them off with rifle shots to the head.

    The summary execution of unarmed and wounded SAF commandos was also confirmed by villagers in the area of the firefight.

    Villagers narrated how BIFF fighters finished off no fewer than 10 wounded policemen with shots to the head. “Two of the wounded policemen who were executed even managed to strap tourniquets on their legs, which were hit by bullets in the initial encounter,” said a villager.

    These reports alone should have impelled PNoy to treat the Mamasapano incident not merely as another unfortunate encounter between government forces and Muslim rebels but as a crime against persons – and a war crime punishable under the Geneva Convention.

    Instead of a plain fact-finding probe through the so-called Board of Inquiry formed by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, PNoy should have immediately called for a criminal investigation into deaths of the 44 SAF commandos. He should have mobilized teams of forensic investigators from the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to collect evidence just like any other criminal incident.

    Together with medico-legal examiners and pathologists, forensic investigators can conduct an autopsy of the victims to determine whether the SAF commandos were shot at close range, summary execution-style, as narrated by several witnesses.

    An autopsy can also show whether certain wounds suffered by the slain SAF commandos were inflicted “post-mortem” or after death, as alleged by some of their colleagues, which would prove that the Muslim rebels intentionally defiled or mutilated the bodies of the dead policemen – another criminal offense under our laws.

    It appears, however, that PNoy is in a rush to bury the slain SAF commandos – along with negative flak that he’s been getting as a result of the botched operation.

    Aside from giving out a slew of cash and non-cash dole outs to the families of the slain troopers, PNoy quickly convened a necrological service for the fallen SAF members, calling them heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country. That, however, is of little comfort to the grieving families who have lost a husband, brother, son or father.

    What the families of the slain SAF commandos want is justice.

    But aside from the usual rhetoric that his government was “determined to render justice to the fallen troopers,” PNoy has not given any specifics on how he will ensure that justice is served.

    Since the incident a week ago, PNoy has not made any demand on the MILF leadership to surrender the firearms and personal belongings (such as the cell phones, wallets, IDs, etc.) of the slain policemen. We’re sure many of our countrymen have seen the newspaper photos showing the slain SAF troopers stripped of their boots, watches and other personal effects.

    PNoy has also still not demanded that the MILF surrender, or at the very least, identify the gunmen involved in the firefight so they could face the probe conducted by the government investigators. These are the crucial evidence and information needed by investigators if they are to establish any criminal wrongdoing during the Mamasapano incident.

    Apparently, PNoy is not too keen on conducting a criminal investigation in the Mamasapano slaughter. He’s probably afraid it may open a can of worms, especially in light of his highly unusual presence in Zamboanga right before the raid in Marwan’s lair.

    Perhaps PNoy’s also afraid that the incident will derail the peace agreement that he forged with the MILF. Indeed, it’s quite offensive and tasteless that PNoy is campaigning for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law while the families of the slain policemen are still in mourning.

    It is obvious PNoy is more concerned about his “legacy”—the success of his peace deal with the MILF—than the fate of the SAF commandos who will most likely end up as a mere statistic, an unavoidable casualty of war.

    True, most Filipinos want peace in Mindanao. But not peace at all costs. And certainly not peace without justice.

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    8 Comments

    1. John Mircillos on

      International Law does not encroach in any internal armed conflicts within a Sovereign State. Treaties of Humanitarian Law do not expressly contain the terms regarding the treatment of captured combatants. Although it specifies POW status under Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention and the Fourth Convention where it covers civilians or unlawful combatants, atrocities committed by unlawful combatants may be prosecuted under domestic laws.

      The Muslim rebels are insurgents, making them unlawful combatants. The president does not have to declare “war” to go after armed groups. The president without approval of the Congress, can authorize the Armed Forces to use all military manpower, equipment, and hardware at its disposal to crush the insurgency to its extinction. The president however can declare war against a “belligerent power” that is not a sovereign state but shares the same rights. In the case of Civil War, for example, where a sovereign state is divided into two large warring factions and the belligerent power has the same military capability as the sovereign power (i.e., having military hardware such as tanks, air planes, and war ships.

      The declaration of war is unnecessary as going after the rebels is just like going after regular criminals, just in an exponentially large scale that involves the military.

    2. Mr Dulay thank you for your attention on this fiasco.
      Mr Alejo Rosete’s comment about “being the mastermind” & fake hero has merit. Please write about the matter -“credit where credit is due” – to refresh our memories on the REAL aquinos.I mean not to bash but just the real facts printed. My generation, the movers & shakers of our community now were very young and not much aware of politics. The youth now are much more well informed of current events. We the older ones should guide them . And one of the most urgent & signicant contribution from OUR GENERATION & that of our parents is to give appropriate information – including past relevant information- to the youth and refresh the memories of those who chose to forget. So that in the next election an APPROPRIATE LEADER will be chosen. A LEADER who can efficiently run a culturally diverse country like the Phils. A leader who is not only fixated on housecleaning & his Legacy but also on the myriad aspects if running a country.
      PNOY HATES GMA. But had he inherited the country on the state it was in when Gloria got it, do you think he will be able to shout to the world such accomplishme he claims now?
      In 1989 i lamented to a diplomat how cory’s vengeance left to destruction my country’s cultural landmarks because it was accomplished by Imelda. His quick retort: well, you get the president you deserve.
      I’m a bystander, lets call a spade a spade tho.

    3. Absence of article on forensic examinations made if any on the SAF victims caught my
      attention. Since, SAF is a police unit it should have been elementary for PNP leadership to conduct said forensic examination if that has not been done then another lapses have been committed. SAF survivors claimed something MILF claimed
      another physical evidence will remove doubts at least on what happened to the dead soldiers.

    4. It is His NOBEL PRIZE at any price .
      He is like his father – a fake hero?

      BS Aquino and his mother has little interest in knowing
      the Real Mastermind in the murder of Senator Ninoy Aquino.

      Why? Because they know it – a member of their clan is the
      Mastermind of the murder. And blamed it on Marcos to become
      a Hero – A FAKE HERO.

      • Jerrysal Mangaoang on

        I agree. And how about the statement of Jovito Salonga that Ninoy’s knows about the Plaza Miranda bombing? Its obvious, why would Ninoy leave (or was he late) the plaza before the grenades were launched?

    5. We do not have to embellish this. This was a case of murder done by a gang of thieves. There is no war. Just terrorists trying to capture and control land.

    6. Ruben V. Calip on

      Totally agree with you, Mr. Dulay. Aquino is more concerned with his personal interests than with the good of the Filipino people and our Republic.
      Those who voted and and campaigned for him in 2010 should have paid more attention to the fact that during his three terms as congressman and two as senator, he authored only one bill!!!!

      • mukhang hindi nya titigilan na magkaroon ng nobel peace prize even at the expense of his soldiers and policemen. pang bala lang sa kanyon ang papel ng mga pulis at sundalo para kay boy sisi para makuha ang nobel peace prize????