Zamboanga City – Presidential frontrunner and incumbent Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte yesterday urged those responsible for the Mamasapano, Maguindanao raid last year to disclose who claimed the $5-M reward offered for the capture of international terrorist Zulkifli bin Abdul alias Marwan and how it was divided.
Meeting with the families of two members of the SAF 44 in Zamboanga City yesterday a year after the raid, Duterte said authorities should tell the families of the slain police commandos how the reward money was shared.
“Where’s the money?” Duterte asked aloud adding that the operators of the raid which resulted in the death of the Malaysian bomb maker and international terrorist and also the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) and members the armed groups and several civilians in Mamasapano, Maguindanao must tell the truth.
Later, Duterte said that while the grief of the families of the victims in the Mamasapano Massacre could not be eased by material things, the members of the raiding team must share in the reward money because “more than anybody else, they made the supreme sacrifice.”
The US government which has listed Marwan as one of the top international terrorists offered the $5-M reward for anybody who could provide information that could lead to the capture or killing of the Malaysian bomb-maker.
Reward money for operations like the Mamasapano raid to get Marwan is supposed to be given only to the informants but in actual practice it is usually shared between the informant and those responsible in carrying out the operations.
While government operatives are not supposed to get a share of the reward money, the reality on the ground is that police operatives also get to claim part of the reward in an arrangement made among the participants of the operation.
Duterte also lambasted the government handlers of the families of the SAF 44 for their “incompetence” in attending to the needs of the families.
“You promised to give them (the families) a house but what was built was a dog house,” he said.
Duterte told the families of two members of the SAF 44 yesterday that he knew “something” about the ill-fated mission and that he would be willing to tell the truth “under oath.”
Saying he was at the command centre in Andrews Base in Zamboanga City with President Aquino and then interior secretary Manuel Roxas III in the afternoon of January 25, he knew something on what transpired in the command centre.
“I know something about the government action during the Mamasapano incident because I was at the base camp with President Aquino, and if I am called to the Senate inquiry I will tell the truth of what I know because I have the moral obligation to tell what I know,” Duterte said during the meeting Sunday.
“If I will be called, I will be forced to tell the truth because I would be under oath, there’s no point in telling a lie with another lie,” he told Erica Pabalinas, the widow of Chief Insp. Ryan Pabalinas, who led the predawn SAF assault on Marwan’s hideout in Mamasapano.
Duterte was with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, his running mate in the May presidential election, flew to Zamboanga City after a trip to Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay to attend a Federalism Forum organised by the advocacy group Hugpong Pederalismo.
Here is more on Duterte’s take on the SAF 44 case as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Nancy Carvajal and Julie Alpala:
The Davao mayor said he now knew more about the massacre after discussions with military authorities with knowledge of the debacle. “Gibahug yung SAF 44. The men were thrown into the lion’s lair,” he said during the meeting.
Tell the truth
Duterte said he was in Zamboanga City at the time of the massacre in Mamasapano to check on the recent bombings there.
He said that when then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas learned that he was in the area, he asked him to join him and President Aquino at Edwin Andrews Air Force Base at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2015.
“What I heard and observed in that base camp was confidential at this time, but if the lies continue, I would be forced to tell the truth,” Duterte said.
He said he had also learned that American agents were present near the Mamasapano area and a helicopter was on standby to receive the finger of Marwan cut by the commandos after they killed the Malaysian bomb-maker.
Except for legal benefits, the next of kin of the SAF 44 had not received other promised assistance from the government, Pabalinas told the Inquirer.
The widow said she would attend the reopening of the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano massacre on Wednesday but would skip the ceremony today (Monday) during which two SAF commandos would receive the Medal of Valor, the highest military award conferred on a Filipino soldier for courage in battle.
She also said some of the survivors of the SAF 44 had been pressured to attend the ceremony. “They said they had received calls and forced to attend the ceremony otherwise they will lose their jobs in the government,” she said.