Calling the fallen Special Action Force (SAF) policemen as heroes who sacrificed their lives following the orders of their commanders, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte last night said the perpetrators of the massacre and those who planned the failed operation must be brought to justice.
“I grieve over the senseless loss of lives of young policemen who were only following orders from their superiors and who sacrificed their lives performing their duty,” he said.
“My heart goes to their families, their widows and their children, their parents and their loved ones who are now grieving and crying for justice,” Duterte said last night.
“Justice must be served,” he said.
He, however, said those who planned and implemented the operation must be unmasked and be made to pay for the monumental blunder which led to the death of the young policemen.
Duterte cautioned national authorities from making rush judgments and decisions until a thorough investigation is conducted to determine the circumstances which led to the killing of 64 members of the elite police unit.
“Emotions are high and the nation is grieving but the call for an all-out war will exacerbate the situation. We do not want this problem to explode into something we cannot handle later on,” Duterte told me last night following a press briefing with television and newspaper reporters.
He said an operation of that magnitude would not be possible without clearance from the highest echelons of the police force and even from national political leaders.
Duterte said that while the “needless loss of lives” of the young policemen was a national tragedy, those responsible for the conduct of the manhunt operation for Marwan in an area which the government had acknowledged to be a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) must be identified and brought to justice.
The SAF policemen, reportedly numbering over 300, were tasked over the weekend to serve a warrant of arrest on a known international terrorist of Malaysian nationality, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was reportedly hiding in an area controlled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Unverified reports said the slain policemen were able to “neutralize” Marwan but were waylaid by a huge number of BIFF guerillas who were later joined by MILF members belonging to the 105th Base Command of the MILF.
The 105th Base Command of the MILF used to be under BIFF leader Ameril Umbra Kato until the latter broke away from the main guerilla group. It is now reportedly under the command of his nephew.
The MILF reported to the media that a total of 64 SAF policemen were slain in the incident.
“I condemn the brutality and savagery of the killing,’ Duterte said adding that those responsible must be brought to justice.
He, however, added that those who planned the operation and ordered the young policemen to enter the area must be unmasked and be made to pay for their tragic blunder.