The Department of Justice (DoJ) has ordered the filing of charges against 88 rebels and private armed groups (PAGs) for the complex crime of direct assault with murder for their involvement in the deaths of members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January last year.
“After an exhaustive evaluation of the numerous records/anexes and sworn statements executed by the parties and their witnesses in support of their respective positions, we find probable cause to hold respondents liable for the complex crime of direct assault with murder,” read the 55-page resolution of the DoJ approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.
The resolution was signed by the DoJ investigating panel composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Roseanne Elepano-Balauag, Rassendell Rex Gingoyon, and Benito Oliver Sales III; and Assistant State Prosecutors Aldrin Evangelista and Alexander Suarez.
Those ordered charged for the deaths of 35 out of the 44 slain SAF commandos include members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) apart from PAGs.
Among those charged were MILF commanders Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan, Rakman, Refy Guiaman, Anife and Haumves alias Haves.
On January 25, 2015, 35 members of the SAF’s 55th Special Action Company conducted “Oplan Oxodus” in Barangay Tukanalipao to get terror suspects Malaysian Zhulkifer Bin Hir alias Marwan, Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman alias Basit Usman and Amin Baco alias Johan.
Only Marwan was killed in the operation while Usman was later killed following his escape.
That day, the SAC was tasked as “the blocking force that will secure the extraction course of the 84th Seaborne-SAC, the SAF unit charged to implement the warrant of arrest…”
The DoJ pointed out that “it was amply established that the perpetrators know the victims were police officers.”
Testimonial evidence particularly from a former MILF member known as Marathon showed that “Pintakasi participants (MILF, BIFF and PAGs) became aware of the identity of the armed groups that engaged them in a gunfight.”