MANILA, Philippines—Even as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front returned 16 firearms belonging to the slain Special Action Force commandos, a survivor of the botched police raid and former-soldier-turned congressman complained that the weapons had been stripped bare by the rebels.
A member of the SAF’s 84th Seaborne who survived the January 25 carnage, said millions of pesos worth of equipment have yet to be returned by the group.
“We had Kevlar helmets, bulletproof plates, magazines, communications (radio handsets), and night vision goggles. Where are all those things?” he asked.
According to an inventory by the Philippine National Police, the SAF men’s missing equipment was worth at least P27 million.
44 SAF members were k****d by the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters last January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao after they raided the hideout of wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front returned on Wednesday 14 M4 rifles and two machine guns. Its breakaway group, the BIFF, earlier vowed not to return the SAF men’s firearms.
The group’s chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said they are still trying to account for the rest of weapons their members recovered from the battlefield.
However, Magdalo representative Ashley Acedillo claimed that the returned firearms’ expensive parts were purposely cannibalized by the rebels.
“Those parts that are missing are interchangeable. They can be fitted onto the rebels’ own weapons,” he said.
If proven true that they indeed purposely stripped the parts, then their sincerity to the peace process will all the more be questioned, he said.
Acting PNP chief General Leonardo Espina meanwhile said police experts are still glossing over the firearms. He added he would also insist the Moro Islamic Liberation Front return the weapons complete with their accessories.