Muslim women from several organizations in Metro Manila rally outside the Senate on Monday, January 26, to call for the immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said he is calling for the suspension of hearings on the BBL following the deaths of at least 37 policemen in an ambush on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao by MILF fighters. (MNS photo)

Muslim women from several organizations in Metro Manila rally outside the Senate on Monday, January 26, to call for the immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said he is calling for the suspension of hearings on the BBL following the deaths of at least 37 policemen in an ambush on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao by MILF fighters. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – A Malaysian bomb maker who was the target of a botched police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao is still alive, a spokesman of the Moro National Liberation Front said Wednesday.

Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan” and Basit Usman, a Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-making expert, were subjects of the bloody police operation in in Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano.

MNLF spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla said Marwan wasn’t even in Mamasapano.

Masakit po yung nangyari, mga kapatid din natin yung namatay. Ang pagkakaalam namin yung kanilang subject ay wala po dun. Wala po dun. Nasa Lanao po, nasa Lanao,” he said.

Mali yung intelligence nila. Mabuti pa nagtanong sila sa amin.

Fontanilla said government security forces did not ask the MNLF about the whereabouts of Marwan.

He pointed out that some elements of the MNLF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are blood relatives.

Mismong mga kamag-anak nila nagsasabi sa amin wala diyan.”

Marwan and Usman are said to be top members of international terror group Jemaah Islamiyah. Marwan is the country’s most wanted Islamist militant and the United States has offered a $5 million reward for him, while a $1 million reward has been posted for Usman.

A total of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force commandos were killed while 12 others were wounded in a bloody firefight with Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday.

Police said eight Moro rebels were also killed in the clash, which shattered a ceasefire that held for three years.

Mohagher Iqbal, head of the rebel peace panel, said the police failed to coordinate their operations with the ceasefire committee.

“They entered our area and attacked us, what are we going to do?” he asked. “What happened was self-defense.”

On Tuesday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas announced the administrative relief of PNP-SAF chief Getulio Napeñas pending the outcome of the investigation on the Maguindanao clash.

“He has been recalled back to Manila. He was given a chance yesterday to help retrieve the bodies of his men. If there were lapses and someone is responsible for it, then he will be made accountable.”

Roxas on Monday described the incident as a “misencounter” but a former DILG chief said the killing was a massacre.

Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan said a “misencounter” usually happens between two friendly forces after each side fails to identify each other.

“It happens when both sides fail to identify each other. Gunshots are fired but when one gets to identify a friendly, they stop. they order a ceasefire. In this particular case, the firing was fast, furious and continuous and massacred more than (40) people. It was an overkill and not a misencounter. It was a plain and simple massacre,” he said.

He said the clash should have stopped immediately after the MILF recognized the PNP-SAF commandos as government forces.

“The firing took place over a period of one day or at least several hours and the commandos were dressed in proper uniforms. They are easily identifiable. It was not that the MILF did not know how SAF commandos are dressed. The SAF commandos are all over the place and they have been dealing with them in the past so they know what SAF commandos look like in the field,” he said.

“For them to say they were surprised by the SAF and acted in self-defense is a lot of BS.” (MNS)