MANILA, Philippines—Appearing at the Senate hearing on the bloody Mamasapano encounter for the first time, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said many members of the rebel group also put their lives on the line trying to save the doomed Special Action Forces commandos.
Iqbal, who originally petitioned Senator Grace Poe if he could attend the hearing in the executive session, said that far from being the enemy, men from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were also actually trying to save the surrounded policemen.
“They risked their lives to implement the ceasefire even though they were in a battlefield,” he said. “If it weren’t for their efforts, many more policemen would have lost their lives.”
44 SAF commandos from the Philippine National Police were k****d by the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters after they raided the hideout of wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
He said as early as 6:30 AM, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was already working feverishly to effect the ceasefire.
“We saved 28 SAF members who were being pinned down by unidentified armed elements. If it weren’t for our efforts, the 28 would have lost their lives,” he said.
While denying the involvement of the rebel group in the killing of the policemen, Iqbal also brushed off claims it was providing refuge to Marwan and another terrorist, Abdul Basit Usman.
“We never coddled them, they were hiding outside our areas,” he said.
He also reiterated that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is different from the B.I.F.F. and is not a terrorist group.
Calling the accusations unfair, he said: “We are against terrorism since it goes against our beliefs as a group and against Islam. The investigation is still ongoing, so it’s unfair to judge us,” he said.