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Mindanao State University

Iligan Institute of Technology


College of Law MSU-IIT Extension

OPINION ON MAMASAPANO INCIDENT AND ITS RAMIFICATION TO


THE ENACTMENT OF BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW IN THE CONTEXT
OF JUSTICE AND PEACE
By: BRUCE RHICK A. ESTILLOTE
1-Teehankee
I.

INTRODUCTION
The Bangsamoro in Mindanao has long dreamt the regime of a political entity, firmly

believing that this shall lead to a long lasting peace. To materialize this aspiration, a series of
peace processes and agreements has been entered into by the Philippine Government and the
MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). Throughout, their sincerity was tested.
With the most recent atrocity in Mindanao and amidst all the promises, both parties
are once again tested whether to pursue what will have been finally sought. But will anyone
be justified to link the tragic Mamasapano clash to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic
Law? Should it hamper the passage of BBL if the Congress wills so? Or should it be treated
as merely showing the need for long lasting peace?

II.

BRIEF FACTS OF MAMAPASANO CLASH

On January 25, 2015, three platoons of the elite SAF (Special Action Force) police
squad entered the guerrilla enclave of Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, with the

goal of arresting two high-ranking Jemaah Islamiyah-affiliated, improvised-explosive-device


experts, Zulkifli Abdhir (also known as Marwan) and Basit Usman. The SAF troops raided
the hut where they believed Marwan was located, and the man they believe to be Marwan
engaged them in a firefight and was killed. The SAF initially planned to take his body for
identification. However, the shooting alerted the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom
Fighters) and MILF (Moro Islamic liberation Front) 118th Command in the area. The SAF
had no time to retrieve the body so they just cut off a finger, took a photo, and left his body
there.1
Concluded after several hours on the same day, the incident left 44 SAF members, 18
MILF members and 7 other civilians dead. 2

III.

OPINION/COMMENTS
Pending the investigation of the complete incident, one can only speculate from the

established facts. As such, the comments I will be writing will be based on the facts
established during Senate hearing and other undeniable information published through
reliable media sources.
The hearing and the interviews concretely show allegations of parties involved and
their circumstances, to wit:

1 2015 Mamasapano clash. wikipedia. Last modified on February 26, 2015. Retrieved February 26,
2015.
2 Andreo Calonzo. Amid outrage over Mamasapano clash, PNoy bats for Bangsamoro law. GMA Network.
February 25, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015

1. INCOORDINATION OF SAF WITH MILF REGARDING THE ARREST OF THE TWO


ALLEGED INVIDUALS
This is a question of whether SAF is compelled to coordinate with MILF in its
Law Enforcement Operation (LEO). Under the Implementing Guidelines on the Joint
Communique of 06 May 2002, Mechanics of Implementation, except for operations
against high priority targets, MILF should be informed of the conduct of PNP 24 hours
prior to the operation. 3In the instant case, both individuals to be arrested fall within the
purview of high priority targets, thus such operation falls as an exception to the
mechanics. The PNP is therefore not duty-bound to either inform the MILF or coordinate
with them.
The comment of Marcos is tenable. Marcos disagreed, saying the SAF was given
a legitimate mission and even without coordination, the MILF could have easily arranged
to talk with the SAF. 4 To quote, Marcos said Hence, even without coordination, they
should have exercised great patience and caution. Those police officers were there to
arrest a terrorist. They were just doing their jobs. The fact that they were not carrying
loads of ammunition show that they are not there for a fight. It was not an attack on the
MILF. Lethal force was clearly not necessary. 5Senator Poe also remarked A peace
agreement that allows the slaughter of our law enforcers because they did not coordinate

3http://www.opapp.gov.ph/sites/default/files/Implementing%20Guidelines%20of%20the
%202002%20AHJAG%20Communique.pdf
4 Amita Legaspi. After Violent PNP-MILF Clash, Bongbong Suspends BBL Hearings. GMANews.
January 26, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
5 Supra

their operation with the other party is certainly flawed. It is not an excuse for the
commission of a crime. 6
However, the members of MILF involved may not be held liable if they can prove
mistake of fact. That they engaged in firefight merely because PNP did not coordinate
may be overhaul if they can prove (1) that they did not start the firefight (2) that their act
was a defense and (3) that along the whole duration of the firefight they truly did not
know that the other group was SAF and that had they known earlier, they would have
withdrawn from the battle.

2. CONTINUED FUNCTIONING OF PNP CHIEF DIRECTOR PURISIMA DESPITE


UNDER PREVENTIVE SUSPENSION AND UNAWARENESS OF DILG SECRETARY
ROXAS, CHIEF DEPUTY DIRECTOR ESPINA, AND AFP
The failure to coordinate with concerned individuals in the operation is a showing of
incompetence and thus condemnable. Best measures could have been timely provided
when what had been required was complied. If there were involvement of these
individuals in the planning, there could be no reason why Purisima should continue to
function as adviser to the President about the plan considering that he was placed in a
preventive suspension. The purpose of suspending him was defeated and if in this act he
couldnt be trusted to obey the mandate given to him, how else could he be trusted in the
accomplishment of the entire plan? The President could partly be held liable for his
tolerance and authority in allowing Purisima to function. That only he knows exactly
what the plan was all about is a complete farce and could have only been resolved by

6 Hannah Torregoza. Senate Concludes Mamasapano Incident Probe. Gma News. February 25, 2015.
Retrieved February 25, 2015.

disclosing the whole plan and letting other heads work with it. But unfortunately, other
political interest, as it can be strongly speculated, untimely put the lives of innocent lives
to risk.
3. DISAGREEMENT OF MILF TO TURN OVER THEIR MEMBERS INVOLVED IN THE
INCIDENT
It is noteworthy that MILF reported that they will not turn-over their men,
invoking that the agreement provides that either institution will respectively discipline their
members. This is amenable only as to issues involving administrative conducts. Although at
the moment, the government cannot compel MILF and other involved groups to turn-over
their members for investigation, in the words of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima Kung gusto
ipakita ng MILF ang good faith, napakalaking confidence-building measure kung ngayon pa
lang [ay] magpahayag na sila na i-susurender ang mga miyembro sa tamang panahon, 7
To prove sincerity in its participation in governmental acts, MILF should show such this
time. Through this, they will also demonstrate willingness to truly maintain the peace and
order. However, the government should be the leader to this so it can prove to the other party
it just and unbiased treatment on the matter.

IV.

CONCLUSION
Should this incident affect BBL as in the context of justice and peace? On my

opinion, we should not let this incident negatively affect BBL but should instead become a
springboard that will let us dive into what the Bangsamoro has long aspired- justice and
peace. There is no causal relation of the incident to BBL, nor is BBL the reason for the
7 Amita Legaspi. De Lima to MILF: Commit to turn over men in Mamasapano clash. GMA News.
February 24, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015.

incident. Although the incident has a showing that MILF is somehow estoppel, but the Basic
Bangsamoro Law, is not an agreement, in its deepest core, between GPH and MILF but
between the entire Bangsamoro and the Government.