MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he will soon meet with the widows of slain Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who were killed in the January 2015 Mamasapano massacre.
In a speech in Malacañang, Duterte revealed he would meet with the widows of the slain policemen. He insisted that the meeting should not be politicized.
“I’ll meet the widows,” he said. “I’m not trying to scare anybody. I’m not trying to go into politics again.”
The Mamasapano massacre dealt a serious blow to the credibility and popularity of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, as the operation which led to the deaths of 44 elite policemen was carried out allegedly under the orders of a suspended police chief.
The suspended police chief was Alan Purisima, who is known for his closeness to Aquino.
The main target of the anti-terror raid, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, was killed, but at the expense of the 44 cops who clashed with private armed groups, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which at the time was at the height of peace negotiations with the government.
Duterte once toyed with the possibility of ordering a reopening of the investigation into the massacre. He particularly wanted to know what happened to the $5 million bounty that the United States offered for Marwan’s arrest.
In his speech, Duterte said he was no longer interested to know what happened to the reward. He said what was bugging him was why air assets from certain parts of Mindanao were not deployed at the time of the clashes.
“I don’t want to bring this up but there are still disturbing issues surrounding Mamasapano. I only have one question for all.
“I’m not trying to revive or revisit the issue, but what’s bugging me is… why was it there was a war the whole day at hindi pinapasok ang sa Awang, Davao City, General Santos. Bakit hindi tinawag ang air assets?” Duterte said.