A Philippine flag flown at half-mast at Fernando Air Base Tuesday as soldiers mourn the death of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force killed during an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters. The MILF claims the clash Sunday erupted due to lack of coordination, when the elite cops tried to capture Malaysian bomb expert Marwan. (MNS photo)

A Philippine flag flown at half-mast at Fernando Air Base Tuesday as soldiers mourn the death of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force killed during an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters. The MILF claims the clash Sunday erupted due to lack of coordination, when the elite cops tried to capture Malaysian bomb expert Marwan. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Cybercrime Division has been tasked to validate the authenticity of a 6-minute video clip, supposedly taken via cellular phone, of the aftermath of the January 25 deadly encounter between an elite police force on a law enforcement mission and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she has ordered the NBI, through NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, to look into the video which has surfaced in social networking sites.

The video shows unidentified men, speaking in their local language, finishing off a man in camouflage uniform, sprawled on a corn field, repeatedly shooting him at close range. It is not yet clear if the fallen man was among the 44 Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who perished in a bloody encounter with armed fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs).

The SAF commandos were on a mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir aka “Marwan” and Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman.

On a Facebook account, the video was described as “Aktwal na pagpatay ng mga MILF sa mga PNP-SAF commando sa Mamasapano.”

“People have texted me about it and I think I’m going to check it out sa video. I’m going to see for myself yung video… first of all, ang unang unang gagawin is to authenticate, to validate the aunthenticity of that video, and then kung authenticated or validated, then that will be evidence, that will be very important for evidenciary purposes.

“Kung totoo na SAF yan and ganun nga ang ginawa sa kanya, certainly, kailangan talaga imbestigahan nang husto at panagutin, alamin kung mga sino sino may kagaagwan nyan because acts of cruelty or acts of atrocities at any setting is quite condemnable. Completely unacceptable, and, therefore, must and ought to be, dealt with severely by our laws especially penal laws,” De Lima said.

The video also shows the group, most of whom were armed, taking magazines and other ammunition from several other fallen men, again, in camouflage uniform. Gunfire is repeatedly heard in the background.

At least two of the perpetrators shouted, “Allah hu akbar!”

De Lima said the acts, should the video prove to be genuine, are “unjustifiable” and an “overkill.”

“Hindi pwede majustify yan at any circumatnce kasi nga it’s an act of cruelty… Overkill, kasi bakit kailangan ulit ulitin na barilin? Even when there is war, even when there is armed conflict, may mga rules of conduct, war conduct. Pag helpless na, hindi na dapat sinasaktan or hindi na dapat pinapatay and also under international humanitarian laws.

“Ang premise dito is kung mavalidate yan, kung geuine yung video na yan. We have to clarify that para hindi na muna magcause ng unnecessary outrage from our people,” De Lima said.

The justice chief reiterated her position that MILF members found to be part of the group that engaged the SAF commandos may be criminally prosecuted for violations of penal laws, despite ongoing peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government.

“The fact na mayroong peace process, hindi ibig sabihin hindi na gumagana ang ating batas. Ang konstitusyon at mga batas natin nandyan. At wala naman nakasaad sa peace agreements na suspended ang applicability ng criminal laws and hindi naman talaga pwede isuspend [ang] criminal laws. Pwede lang yan kapag may amnesty, later na yan.

“Therefore, kung sino-sino ang mapapatunayan na gumawa ng mga krimen na yan during that incident on January 25 ay kailangan talaga panagutin— MILF, BIFF, and mga PAGs in the area proven to have participated in those criminal acts of killing people and inflicting acts of cruelty,” De Lima said.

De Lima said the identities of the fallen men in camouflage have to be established, as well as that of the shooters and looters. The one who took the footage also has to be identified, she added.(MNS)