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Duterte plans to reopen Mamasapano investigation

BEIJING – President Rodrigo Duterte plans to reopen the investigation on the bloody Mamasapano incident last January 2015 that left over 60 people dead, including 44 members of the elite PNP-Special Action Force.

In a speech delivered at the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum in the Great Hall of the People, Duterte said he wondered who got the $5-million reward for terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as Marwan, who was killed by the SAF commandos.  

It was the United States which offered the hefty bounty for the capture of Marwan, a suspect in the deadly Bali bombings in Indonesia in 2002.

"Forty-four Mamasapano soldiers, they went inside, they died. No dramatics, no nothing. No ... except that we grieve for our soldiers. Maybe in this --- in the days ahead, I will order the opening of that issue again. Not really to prosecute people but just to know what happened? Who got the five million?" Duterte said while assailing the United States.

"Whether the tip of the finger of Marwan was gotten by the Special Forces of United States or was it really brought to the forensic division diyan sa [Camp] Crame," he added.

Duterte suggested that some of the information on Marwan's death were lies. 

"These are the lies that are imposed upon the people which is not good.  Let us go for the truth. Let it out. Never mind about corruption. Too late in the day," the President said.

This is not the first time Duterte raised the issue of greed as motivation for the anti-terror operation on Jan. 25, 2015 that ended in a bloody clash between SAF troopers and armed groups including members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was negotiating for a final peace deal with the Aquino government at the time.

On August 10, the President told troops in Zamboanga del Sur that the Mamasapano incident was a sad consequence of running after the reward for Marwan's capture.

"Katong sa Mamasapano, it was a question of greed [What happened in Mindanao, it was a question of greed]," Duterte said, claiming that the SAF troops were directed by someone who was after the bounty.

Duterte also promised law enforcers that there will not be another Mamasapano incident during his watch.

Five days after that speech, the Justice Department came out with a resolution ordering the filing of direct assault with murder charges in court against 88 people in relation to the incident.

The 88 respondents—identified by a star witness known only by the code name Marathon and 11 other individuals—belong to the MILF, its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups.

Among those included in the charge sheet are Commanders Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan, Rakman of the MILF 118th Base Command, Refy Guiaman, Haumves alias Haves of the 105th MILF Base Command, Hadji Abdulsalam and Hadji Mohammad alias Hadji Muhammad.

Only the deaths of 35 members of the 55th SAF-Special Action Company who were killed by the rebels in a clash at a cornfield in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano were covered by the resolution.

No charges can be filed for the meantime for the death of the nine members of the 84th SAF Company in Barangay Pidsandawan due to lack of witnesses, according to the DOJ. — with Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News