Iqbal: Looted weapon in viral video not with MILF

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 25 2015 08:54 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2015 04:54 AM

MANILA – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday gave another reason why he believes they are not behind the killing of a Special Action Force (SAF) trooper captured on video.

Iqbal insisted the MILF was not behind the cold-blooded killing of the SAF trooper, identified as PO1 Joseph Sagonoy, noting that one of the firearms seen being looted in the viral video did not end up in their hands.

''The one who shot the wounded SAF commando and the one who took the video were not from MILF. One evidence, in as far as video is concerned, is we never captured a B90,'' Iqbal told ANC's Headstart.

The viral video intensified public outrage over the bloody police raid, with some calling for the government to fully abandon peace talks with the MILF.

The Mamasapano raid, where 44 SF troopers were killed by the MILF and other groups, affected public support for the Moro group's aspiration of establishing an autonomous region in Mindanao.

Also complicating the situation is the issue of chain of command: resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima took control of the operation despite his suspension at that time, and left important police and military officials out of the loop.

MARWAN

The raid, dubbed Operation Plan: Exodus, was launched to capture Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifil bin Hir alias Marwan.

It has been alleged that the international terrorist was slain by SAF troopers in MILF-controlled territory. Iqbal has repeatedly denied this.

''It's a mixed area. Nandoon ang pamilya ng BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), MILF, and private armies. Community po, kaya you cannot compartmentalize the movement of people,'' he said.

However, when asked about the possibility of some MILF members or sympathizers coddling Marwan, Iqbal said his group, just like the Philippine government, does not have full control over its constituents.

''Libo-libo iyan, ang dami ng myembro namin. I cannot say with certainty na wala sa miyembro namin ang nakakausap (si Marwan). Pero organizationally at saka sa mga commanders namin, walang ugnayan kay Marwan,'' he said.

Iqbal said anyone within the MILF found to be coddling terrorists ''will be subject to our internal law."

''We have not punished anyone because there was no evidence that someone from MILF was coddling Marwan."

UN INTERVENTION

Amid claims of a whitewash in the investigations of the MILF and the PNP, Iqbal said the best entity to probe the January 25 incident is an independent third party.

Iqbal said there are already established mechanisms that can address the situation, such as the Third Party Monitoring Team.

He said the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission headed by Mo Bleeker can also look into the incident.

He added the United Nations has also expressed openness to intervening.

''Although we don’t pursue this proposal, the UN can come in. I've already talked to one UN official here in Manila and interesado sila, kaya lang sabi nila [only] if there is a request from the government and the MILF, they can pursue the case,'' he said.