MANILA, Philippines — While concluding it was the 55th Special Action Company (SAC) of the PNP-SAF who fired the first shot, the probe of the Department of the Justice (DOJ) into the January 25 Mamasapano tragedy also found damning evidence of Moro rebels gunning them down even though they were surrendering.
They also apparently knew their opponents were officers of the Philippine National Police.
In its 200-plus page report, the joint team of the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) and National Prosecution Service (NPS) said the members of the 55th SAC who found themselves surrounded in the cornfield of Tukanalipao village attempted to surrender by raising their arms.
However, fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other armed groups in the area continued firing at the defenseless policemen.
Then, after the fighting died down and with the SAF men lying helplessly, the Moro rebels crossed over to the cornfield and finished them off.
Out of the 36 men of the 55th SAC, only one survived the carnage.
According to the report, the conduct of the Moro rebels and other armed groups showed there was a conspiracy to k**l all of the policemen.
They Knew They Were Fighting SAF
Also, contrary to a claim by a ranking rebel commander they didn’t know the opponents they were fighting were SAF until it was afternoon, the report said the Moro fighters had known about the policemen’s real identities as early as 8 AM.
According to an eyewitness, he clearly heard several rebels saying they were engaging police officers.
“At that moment, those who were involved in the killing of the SAF men became criminally liable for direct assault with murder for although they had known about their opponents’ identities, they continued firing away even when the police officers had their arms raised in surrender,” the report said.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has continuously denied criminal responsibility for the incident, saying its men were only forced to defend themselves. It instead blamed the SAF men for intruding into their area and failing to inform them ahead of time about the plan to capture or k**l wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.