Thursday, January 29, 2015

Philippines Moro Islamic fighters rollicking, lounging before SAF massacre


Images from an MILF video: (Clockwise from top left) A young recruit, pretending to be a war war correspondent of the “MILF 105th Base Command”; an MILF fighter smiles for the camera before getting coached on how to fire a rifle; a fighter shooting at the SAF force obviously at quite a distance. Last image, a SAF trooper shot at the back of his head.


For what was purportedly a fierce firefight, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters were enjoying themselves, rollicking, lounging at times, laughing at their jokes, and occasionally firing their rifles toward a distant rice field where the Philippine National Police Special Action Forces (SAF) troopers were pinned down.

One bored, young MILF fighter, to amuse himself, pretended he was a war correspondent representing the insurgent group’s “105th Base Brigade.” A comrade behind him guffawed. One MILF fighter holding a cigarette tutored another how to properly aim an M-14.

These are shown in a 10-minute video of the firefight, if one can call it that, taken with a smartphone by somebody who was obviously an MILF fighter. The video clip is posted on Check it out (second video there) for yourself and be shocked.

Partly hidden behind coconut trees, the dozen and more fighters shown in the video were part of the MILF force which had cornered the SAF troops, and were waiting for the elite police force to run out of bullets so that they would surrender helplessly.

The other, shorter video clip on the website shows the gruesome result of the episode: dozens of SAF troops dead, several obviously shot in the face pointblank, the skull of one cracked wide open and filled with leaves, every corpse stripped of all battle gear, one even of its jacket and boots. The MILF claims 64 policemen were killed while the government says only 44 bodies were recovered, including those of seven officers.

There are two undisputed sets of information. First, the encounter started before sunrise and the entire episode ended about sundown. Second, the SAF troops, according to an earlier, gloating report carried by the MILF website, had run out of bullets by noon.

With these two reports, along with the video clips, one may view the incident as nearly crystal-clear: a horrific episode and an indictment of the MILF’s inhumanity.

As the SAF troops tried to withdraw after their first early morning encounter with the MILF, the insurgents managed, instead, to box them into an open, harvested rice field with little protection, behind them a river obstacle with only a makeshift, rickety bamboo bridge. The MILF called in reinforcements, including the supposedly renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to strengthen the encirclement, and man a blocking force right after the river.

A nearby Philippine Army battalion either waited for orders from headquarters, which never came, or naively tried to contact the MILF (to beg them to stop?).

The MILF at the front and back of the SAF fired at them continuously for them to fire back—until they ran out of bullets.

They had no choice but to surrender. The MILF, with the BIFF, shot the SAF surrendering troops point blank, and looted them of their battle equipment, even their boots.

Not a firefight
It wasn’t a firefight. It was first a turkey shoot by an MILF force that encircled the SAF troops, and then a massacre after the policemen surrendered.

The Aquino government is intent on covering up this atrocity. No forensic examination by experts of the SAF troops corpses was made to determine if they were, indeed, shot point-blank. No forensic experts were sent to examine the killing field in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

“The SAF didn’t coordinate their operations,” Commander-in-Chief President Benigno S. Aquino, Secretary Mar Roxas who commands the PNP, PNP Officer-in- Charge Leonardo Espina, chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar, all said.

But even if they didn’t ask for permission from the MILF — what these people really meant by “coordination” — the insurgents violated all standards of humanity, based on all the teachings of either Mohamed of the Muslims or Jesus Christ of the Christian faith, when they massacred them when they were clearly law-enforcement agents of the Republic who had laid down their arms. The video clip I mentioned, in fact, had a conversation between two MILF fighters. One asked who their enemies were. Another said “policemen from national headquarters.”

This is worse than the first Maguindanao massacre in 2009, when 58 innocent civilians were killed in a rushed frenzy. This second Maguindanao massacre, which snuffed out the lives of our young police officers, was a very calculated, cold-blooded operation that took hours to undertake, and ignored long-held values of respect among warriors.

The MILF was able to mobilize its forces to the killing field as its three camps were not too far away: Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab, Camp Abubakar as-Siddique and Camp Badre in Maguindanao

These are the MILF camps that the “Annex on Normalization” of President Aquino’s “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” recognized, in effect the insurgent territory that forces of the Republic cannot enter or even approach. They had become centers of mujahideen recruitment and training. (see my column “Aquino pact restores, strengthens MILF camps,” Jan 30, 2014).

One would have to be extremely, criminally naive to believe that the MILF would soon be surrendering their arms accumulated in these camps as part of the “demobilization” process of the “peace agreement.”

It was a perfect, secured refuge for the two terrorists, Malaysian explosives expert Zulkifli Bin Hir and his Maguindanaon cohort, Basit Usman, whom the SAF attempted to arrest. That itself is something we should seriously consider, that the Bangsamoro will be a refuge for international jihadists. (See my column “Could the Bangsamoro be haven for ISIS in the future?” Sept 18, 2015.

So that the MILF won’t be accused of coddling the terrorists, Aquino, however claimed that the two weren’t in any of the camps, but in a place surrounded by several camps. Brilliant.

What kind of a President is this, when instead of expressing outrage against this MILF atrocity, devoted much of his speech to the issue the other night expounding on the MILF’s and Roxas’ excuse, that “they didn’t coordinate”?

“The truth shall set us free,” Aquino melodramatically said in his speech, referring to the results of an investigation of the episode he ordered.

I hope the truth will, indeed, set us free — of this incompetent, bungling, and compassionless president who has cost the Republic 44 of its elite commandos.

Rigoberto Tiglao


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