MILF: Shooter in Mamasapano viral video not ours

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2015 09:58 AM | Updated as of Feb 12 2015 06:01 PM

MANILA - A top official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front believes the man who shot a Special Action Force trooper as seen in a viral video is not a member of the MILF.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, said the video only shows the arm but not the face of the shooter.

In the video, a SAF trooper is shot twice by an unknown assailant at a cornfield in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano.

"Dapat ang sagot ay dapat supported by hard facts. Hindi ako naniniwala na yan ay pwedeng gawin ng miembro ng MILF o legitimate na elemento ng Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters dahil mahigpit ang leadership ng MILF and the general staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces na sundin ang lahat ng paraan, rules of engagement in battle," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.

He said one prohibition in the rules of engagement is the mutilation of bodies or to keep shooting a person who is already dead.

The MILF is still investigating the incident wherein a total of 44 SAF police commandos and 18 Moro rebels were killed in a firefight in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

Officials have said the SAF mission targeted Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and terror suspect Basit Usman.

On Wednesday, Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina condemned the "overkill" of his men, saying some of the warriors were shot in the head - indicating that they were executed.

For his part, Jaafar condemned the killing of the SAF trooper, adding that a thorough investigation must be done to identify the killer.

He said members of the Bangsamoro are hurt by the pronouncements of some lawmakers who are condemning Muslims for the carnage in Mamasapano.

"Feeling ng Bangsamoro people ngayon ay naghihinakit sila sapagkat duon sa mga pronouncements ng mga lawmakers natin, mga congressmen at senators, para bang ang intindi ng mga Bangsamoro people all over the Philippines pati sa Maynila para silang hindi citizens of the republic. Kahit na pinapatay e kino-condemn pa rin sila," he said.

He said one sentiment that has arisen among Muslims is that "there is a different standard of justice for Christians and Muslims."

"Ang tingin po sa kanila, sa mga lawmakers, ayon sa interpretasyon:
ang mga Muslim ay masama, walang karapatan, mga kriminal. Hindi naman. May mga karapatan sila as citizens of the republic. Ayan ang sinasabi namin na hindi maganda," he said.

Jaafar said the public should be reminded of the very real cost of the decades-long war in Mindanao. Armed Forces chief of staff Gregorio Catapang earlier said the war in Mindanao has led to the deaths of 491 police and military, 841 civilian, and 1,267 MILF from 2001 to 2012.

The MILF leader also challenged the public to make a decision if the Mamasapano incident "really shows that the MILF is insincere."

"Ang tanong po namin: dahil ba sa isang insidente dito sa Mamasapano, e ang husga po ng mamamayan ay hindi sincere ang MILF? Hindi serious ang MILF? Sa loob ng 18 years, serious ang MILF sa negotiations. Tinupad ng MILF ang lahat ng kanyang obligations under the terms and conditions and provisions ng iba't ibang agreement na nilagdaan ng MILF with the government of the Philippines kabilang na ang mechanisms," he said.

Jaafar said government forces in coordination with the MILF were able to rescue kidnap victims in the past several years.

He also said the MILF even allowed the military to pass through two MILF camps after proper coordination was done.

The MILF official also challenged the nation's leaders to "be statesmen" in its investigation into the Mamasapano incident.

"Panawagan sa mga lawmakers natin at iba pang political leaders natin: Please rise above the level of a politician. Be statesmen. May problema tayo sa Mindanao. Ang problema ay political problem kaya may negotiations. Libo-libo na ang namamatay sa Muslims and non-Muslims...It is uncalled for na ang ibang leaders natin, political leaders, na nananawagan ng gyera."