Malacanang is leaving it to newly appointed Justice Secretary Benjamin Caguioa to prosecute fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) involved in the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking continuing action to pursue justice for the fallen SAF troopers,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a text message.
Coloma made the assurance after former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima failed to wrap up the case against all the suspects who took part in the mass killing of the SAF commandos before she resigned to run for senator in the 2016 elections.
The Palace reaction was sought in reply to observations of several sectors, particularly former president Fidel Ramos, that the MILF members involved in the killing remained scot-free.
Ramos, who was among the co-founders of the SAF in 1983, lashed out at the government for failing to give justice to the 44 SAF commandos killed in the line of duty.
“Maybe we are just being fooled. More so, they are fooling victims and their families.
Where is the follow-up? Suddenly all announcements have stopped,” he said.
“Is this because there are some new people coming in at [the Department of Justice]?” he asked.
The government had sent the SAF commandos on a mission to apprehend Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, said to be a high-value target who was believed being coddled by Moro rebels.
Marwan and his Filipino sidekick were found staying in a house within a barangay (village) believed to be controlled by the MILF with whom the Aquino administration had a ceasefire agreement.
The DOJ earlier filed criminal cases against 90 members of the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters as well as members of private armed groups, most of them still unidentified.