MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has closed the preliminary investigation for direct assault with murder and theft cases against 84 of the 90 individuals charged for the bloody January 25 Mamasapano encounter.
This, as the respondents failed to appear or have themselves represented by lawyers in the proceedings before the designated panel of prosecutors: Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag, and Assistant State Prosecutors Alexander Suarez, Rassendell Rex Gingoyon, Benito Oliver Sales III and Aldrin Evangelista.
The case against these respondents is now considered submitted for resolution.
The proceedings against the remaining respondents, namely, alleged 118th Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Base Command commander Pendatun Utek Makakua, Mustapah Tatak, and Lakiman Dawaling have not been terminated as Dawaling and Tatak submitted on Thursday's hearing their respective counter-affidavits denying their participation in the bloodbath, while Makakua has participated in the proceedings through lawyer Carlos Valdez.
Speaking to journalists, Prosecutor Suarez bared that respondents Sabudin Kedsa aka Boden Hajemao, Manny Samal, and Roland Samal, in a letter to the DOJ panel, asked for copies of the complaint and its attached documents. It is presumed that said respondents intend to file their respective defenses in due time.
"The 3 who sent letters, they just gave an explanation why they could not come here in Manila and requested to receive copies of the complaint and attached documents. Atty. Carlos Valdez, who is also representing one of the respondents here undertook to receive the said complaint and supporting documents and he will be the one who will be forwarding the said documents to the Office of the Municipal Mayor of Mamasapano, Maguindanao," Suarez said.
The pending case involves the death of 35 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos following a clash with combined forces from the MILF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs) in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Nine other SAF troopers died, also in Mamasapano on said day, but they were part of the group that raided terrorist Sulkifli bin Hir aka Marwan's hut in Barangay Pidsandawan.
Suarez added that if any one of the other respondents still intend to ask for an opportunity to be heard, they should file a formal pleading requesting for a reopening of the preliminary investigation.
SAF MEN REAFFIRM AFFIDAVITS
Four SAF officers led by former SAF officer-in-charge Noli Taliño, meantime, reaffirmed their respective sworn statements which formed part of the complaint.
Other SAF officers and troopers may reaffirm their sworn statements before any member of the panel for these affidavits to be considered as evidence in the proceedings.
The complainants in the case are the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which was tasked to conduct a fact-finding probe into the Mamasapano incident, as well as the heirs of the slain 35 SAF commandos.