MANILA (Mabuhay) – “Tinugis ninyo [ang] mga tao ko, kaya ung mga gamit namin, isauli ninyo na.”
This was PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina’s renewed call to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, referring to the items, including firearms, left behind by PNP-Special Action Force personnel after a bloody “misencounter” in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
“Tandaan ninyo [ang] usaping peace process, huwag ninyo na sanang dagdagan pa, may mga namatay na nga...” he said at a press briefing Thursday, adding that PNP has been supportive of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“Naganap po ang firefight na ito in order to serve a warrant sa isang terrorist, pero pinatay mga tao ko,” he told reporters.
On Wednesday at the House of Representatives, Espina called on the MILF combatants to surrender the firearms and other belongings of the fallen policemen.
“Pakiusap ko lang sa MILF, isauli ninyo ang mga gamit namin, ‘that’s ours. Pinatay niyo na ang mga tao namin, huwag niyo nang dagdagan,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda also called on the MILF to “show good faith and sincerity” by returning the items reportedly taken from the slain police commandos.
“Kung talagang hindi ito ninanais nila, it would be good for them to surrender to us or to return to us the firearms of those fallen 44,” Lacierda told reporters.
During Thursday’s press conference in Camp Crame, Espina said he has asked SAF officer-in-charge Chief Supt. Noli Taliño to conduct an inventory on the items lost in the misencounter.
The SAF operatives were out to serve an arrest warrant against Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Commander Marwan, whose presence had been confirmed in the area. Government officials claimed killing Marwan in the January 25 operation.
On Wednesday, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that a DNA sample provided by Philippine authorities showed that it came from Marwan.
“Further testing and analysis will be conducted by laboratory examiners in an effort to fully identify the subject of DNA provided to the FBI,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office.
At least 44 elite police officers were killed in the ensuing firefight with members of the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters BIFF in the Mamasapano clash.The MILF said it lost at least 17 of its fighters in the encounter.
The incident is being investigated by Congress, the Board of Inquiry, the Department of Justice, Commission on Human Rights and the MILF. A bill calling for the creation of a Truth Commission to look into the matter is also pending at the Senate. (MNS)