A HIGH-RANKING official of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 condemned the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for “desecrating” the bodies of the members of Special Action Force (SAF) who were killed in a battle in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday.
“We should not forgive them for that. Ang gumagawa lang niyan ay ISIS,” said Senior Supt. Conrado Capa, deputy regional director for operations of PRO 7 and acting director of Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).
During yesterday’s press briefing, Capa was emotional and cried over the incident, considered to be the bloodiest police operation in recent history wherein 44 elite police commandos were killed.
“I can forgive them because the police and military die in a battle. What I can’t forgive, is, you desecrated the dead. That’s unacceptable. There’s no need to mutilate the dead. You don’t have to cut the heads, take out the eyes and cut the arms. They’re already dead. Just give us the dignity of death,” he said.
The bodies of the 44 policemen arrived in Villamor Airbase in Pasay City yesterday.
The members of the elite police forces died in the course of serving a warrant of arrest on two alleged suspected terrorists, Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan, and his local cohort, Basit Usman.
Two of the 44 dead policemen were Muslims, who were immediately buried following Islam tradition.
That, as Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte yesterday urged the government and the Senate to suspend the peace talks with MILF and form an independent investigating body.
In a press conference at the University of Cebu (UC), Duterte said the investigating body may be composed of Muslim and Christian leaders plus representatives from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Duterte said that before the talks with the Muslim rebels resume, the authorities must be able to determine who are responsible and accountable for the senseless killing of the highly-trained policemen.
“Justice must be served to the victims. This (massacre) is not a joke for both Muslims and Christians that 44 policemen lost their lives,” Duterte said.
Capa, for his part, said his heart bleeds for the SAF troopers since he spent four years of his career with the special police unit from 1985 to 1989.
He plans to visit the wake of PO1 Windel Candano and PO1 Romeo Cempron, who were from Cebu.
On the report that members of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) will hold a “mass leave” for five days as a sign of protest, Capa hopes the alumni association will reconsider their decision.
“They don’t have to take a leave of absence. They can still show their sign of protest in other ways,” he said, adding this will hurt police operations.
Also yesterday, the family of PO3 Junrel Kibete from Barangay Poblacion, Argao visited the CPPO to receive the letter of sympathy.
Kibete was among the slain SAF troopers. He left the three children with their mother, Irene, his former live-in partner.
They flew to Manila yesterday to attend Kibete’s burial in Bulacan, where the latter’s siblings live.
Today, the PNPAAAI 7 will also hold a “Walk for Sympathy” for their fallen comrades.
The police officers will assemble at I.T. Park at 4 a.m. They will march towards PRO 7
where a mass will be held.
The SAF personnel who died were about to serve warrants of arrest against two Malaysian international terrorists, who were staying within the area in Maguindanao, which is considered an MILF territory.
Duterte said the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao is not about religion but territory.
But he is sad that while there is a Philippine Republic, which is governed by laws, there is a piece of land in Mindanao like the site of the SAF massacre, which is being controlled by lawless elements.
He said it is more unfortunate because this happened at the time that both sides (government and rebels) are negotiating for lasting peace and the issue is being tackled by the Senate.
In a separate interview, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he is in favor of the peace treaty, but discouraged an all-out-war as an aftermath of the Mamasapono tragedy.
“The peace process should proceed, although our initial reaction… bida… bawos ta (was we should take revenge). We have Christian brothers there in Mindanao whether we like it or not. We should not give up hope nga makab-ot nato ang kalinawan diha sa (that we will have peace in) Mindanao,” said Davide.
Davide hopes that the “lack of proper coordination among the PNP and the military,” will not happen in the future.
He said that the policemen died as heroes, and “we condole with the families.”
Days before Duterte urged the Senate to suspend the deliberation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito withdrew as co-sponsors of the BBL.
Meanwhile, Duterte denied that he is roaming around the country because of his bid for the presidency in the 2016 elections.
“I am not a candidate for President. I am only visiting several places in the country like Cebu because I am promoting the Federal System of Government, especially that the present government is highly-centralized,” Duterte said.
He said that the bulk of the country’s resources went to Manila and only a little goes to Visayas and Mindanao. He said that in federalism, there will be equal distribution of the nation’s wealth
Duterte first met with former Cebu City Tomas Osmeña but he refused to divulge the details of their meeting.
Duterte proceeded to UC to meet with its owner, Atty. Augusto Go, and speak before hundreds of UC students.
Duterte admitted to the Cebu media that he wants to become President of the Philippines but he has no money for the nationwide campaign expenses.
Asked if he will run for president if some businessmen like Go will bankroll his candidacy, Duterte said he will think about it.