DAVAO CITY- Various groups called for an impartial and independent probe following the fatal operation of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

According to Gabriela Women’s Partylist representative Luzviminda Ilagan President Benigno Aquino III should be held accountable for the incident saying that “(T)he truth behind the Mamasapano operation should be unearthed and those responsible for leading the 44 fallen SAF elements to their inevitable carnage and for the deaths of at least 18 others including a 5 year-old girl and six civilians must be held accountable,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan said “(P)utting a suspended police chief at the helm of the Mamasapano operation while claiming ignorance despite his presence in Zamboanga City a day before the incident now appears to be calculated acts meant to avoid accountability.”

Initial reports sent by Kawagib-Moro Human Rights Alliance based in Cotabato City cited several victims of extrajudicial killing, death due to indiscriminate firing, and more than 1,500 victims of forced evacuation.

Aside from the 44 SAF members, 5-year old Sarah Panangulon and six other civilians who were preparing for morning prayers at a nearby Mosque, and 11 MILF fighters also died.

In the morning of January 25, while residents of Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano were preparing for their morning prayer, PNP-SAF entered the community and started firing at the house of Tots Panangulon, on suspicion that members of Jemaah Islamiyah were hiding there. Panangulon, died while her father Tots and mother Samrah were injured.

Kawagib also reported of a farmer, Badrudin Langalan, who was found hogtied and dead at a bridge at Brgy.Tukanalipao. “His body was riddled with bullets, his eyes gouged,” Kawagib said.

Sarah Lawani Langalan, Badrudin’s wife, said her husband passed through the bridge to go to Brgy. Tukanalipao crossing to have his cellphone charged. The wife believed he met members of SAF.

The local government of Mamasapano also reported five persons who died inside the Islamic Center in the village of Inubog, Brgy. Tukanalipao. They were praying when members of the SAF fired at them. Witnesses believed that the SAF suspected there were JI terrorists among them. Three other still unnamed civilians were wounded in the incident.

“It appears now that the operation meant to arrest Marwan, was clearly designed and instigated by the US government’s war on terror,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan said the incident now in Mamasapano “demonstrates the dangerous consequences of allowing the US operating and intelligence troops to maneuver unhampered in Philippine territory” with Filipino communities reduced as “collateral damage”.

“We are all practically targets,” Ilagan said.

Protest actions also marked the national day of mourning Friday.

Youth group Anakbayan held a protest action along Roxas Avenue Friday night to call for President Aquino’s ouster following the incident in Maguindanao.

“Aquino admitted that he knew about the operation yet he insisted that he was not asked for a go-signal and instead, blamed the lack of coordination on the ground. This is a very insulting statement and unbecoming of a president,” said Gelyne Alapag,spokesperson of Anakbayan-SMR.

Alapag said that as the Commander-in-Chief, “it is unbelievable that he has nothing to do with it.”

While League of Filipino Students regional spokesperson, Joyce Perpetua criticized Aquino for denying the involvement of US military in the operation saying “it is clear that the operation was pushed by Aquino administration upon the instigation of the US military. American troops were in the frontline during the clearing operation in Mamasapano.”

In Cotabato City, Suara Bangsamoro protested at the Cotabato City Plaza, Wednesday.

Spokesperson Jerome Succor Aba called for a thorough investigation including the impact of the police operation in the civilian community in Mamasapano.

Aba said the civilians bore the brunt of the operation as they were allegedly harboring terrorists in the area.

Suara calls for justice for the “real victims” of the government’s police operation.

Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan said they found “similarities” between victims of human rights violations and the members of PNP SAF who were killed.

“They, too, are victims of Aquino’s puppetry to the interests of the United States government,” said the group’s secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan also demands for an independent investigation.

“It is not enough to dish out a string of words, however kilometric they are. The problem is, he (President Aquino) spoke too much but said nothing,” said Palabay.(davaotoday.com)

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