Families of SAF 44 cry for justice 4 years after Mamasapano massacre

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2019 08:43 PM

MANILA - Four years after the bloody Mamasapano clash, families left behind by some of the police commandos slain in a botched anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015 trooped to Padre Faura in Manila Friday morning to call on the Supreme Court to act on the case.

“Kami po nakikiusap dito sa Korte Suprema na sana ay magising na po. Hindi naman po namin sinasabi na natutulog po sila dahil alam naman namin na sila’y marami pong trabaho, pero sana bigyang tuon, pansin itong aming hinaing dahil apat na taon na po kaming nag-aantay ng hustisya,” Felicitas Nacino, mother of PO2 Nicky Nacino Jr., told reporters.

(We are asking the Supreme Court to wake up. We are not saying they are asleep because we know they have tons of work, but please notice our pleading because we have been seeking for justice for 4 years.)

The grieving mother has a pending petition with the high court questioning the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to file graft and usurpation of authority charges instead of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide raps against former President Benigno Aquino III, former police chief Alan Purisima and former SAF chief Getulio Napeñas.

“Ang sakit-sakit po naming isipin na parang di po kami inaasikaso. Matagal na pong paghihintay,” she said.

(It's very painful for us to think that we are not being entertained. We've waited for so long.)

PO2 Nacino was among the 44 SAF members who died on January 25, 2015 in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao during a botched raid to capture international terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan.

Marwan died in that raid along with 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and 5 civilians in an incident that drew widespread outrage and stalled peace efforts in Mindanao.

The Office of the Ombudsman in November 2017 junked reckless imprudence resulting in homicide cases against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas and instead filed graft and usurpation of authority charges with the Sandiganbayan.

The latter charges carry a lesser penalty. 

Nacino and another mother of a slain SAF commando, assisted by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, filed a petition with the high court on the same month questioning the Ombudsman’s decision. 

Solicitor General Jose Calida sided with the mothers and the VACC and asked the high court in January last year to reverse the Ombudsman’s decision.

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The high court issued a temporary restraining order in February last year preventing the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the arraignment of Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas.

VACC legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said they rushed the petition to prevent Aquino and others from making a plea to a lesser offense.

“Nilamay namin ang petition…Hinahabol po namin sapagkat kapag nakapag-plead si PNoy (Aquino) sa napakaliit na mga charges, magiging double jeopardy na po, di na maibabalik ang 44 counts of homicide,” he told reporters.

(We rushed this because if PNoy is able to plead in the small charges, it will lead to double jeopardy, the 44 counts of homicide could not be revived.)

“Nagulat kami kinatigan kami ng OSG, ang SC nag-issue ng TRO (temporary restraining order) na di matutuloy. Kaya buhay pa ang aming pag-asa na maibabalik sa 44 counts of homicide,” he said.

(We were surprised the OSG sided with us, the SC issued a temporary restraining order to stop the proceedings. This is why we still hope that the 44 counts of homicide can be revived.)

Topacio clarified they will not be filing any motion to urge the SC to act on their petition. He said the parties are waiting for the SC to issue an order requiring the submission of memoranda.

“Ako nanalig sa ating mga mahistrado, alam nila ang dapat gawin at parang gentle reminder na ngayon, January 25, apat na taon na po ‘yan wala pa din hustisya. Baka pwede pakisilip naman po,” he said.

(I have faith that our justices know what to do and this is a gentle reminder that today, January 25, it has been 4 years and justice is yet to be achieved. Maybe they can look into this.)

But for Telly Sumbilla, who lost her son PO3 John Lloyd Sumbilla in the massacre, justice can’t come soon enough.

“Ang hinanakit namin, hanggang ngayon, 4 years na, di pa naaasikaso ‘yung mga finile namin,” she said.

(We resent that it has been 4 years, the case we filed is still not being attended to.)

“Nagtatanong kami, ‘yung mga magulang, mga nanay. Bakit hindi pantay ang hustisya? Sobrang biased. Pag mayayaman ang sangkot, di magalaw-galaw. Pag mahihirap, kaagad napapasok sa kalaboso,” she added.

(We parents, mothers are asking: why isn't justice fair? It's biased. If a rich person is involved, it doesn't move. If it's a poor one, he's immediately imprisoned?)

“Bakit po ‘yung piring ng Lady Justice ay hindi pantay?”

(Why is Lady Justice's blindfold skewed?)