THE families of the fallen SAF 44 may not yet expect the justice they have been yearning for after the Department of Justice on Friday said “there are certain sensitivities” being taken into account and which had stalled the case’s resolution.
Outgoing Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas made the statement after his department failed to meet its deadline to resolve the case filed against those responsible for the death of 35 of the 44 members of the Special Action Force in January 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, during a firefight with Moro rebels and other groups.
“It is hard to commit,” Caparas said.
“Like I explained the last time, there are certain sensitivities that we are trying to protect, we want to do what is best for everybody as much as possible.”
Caparas declined to explain what “sensitivities” needed to be considered in resolving the case, but said the May elections had nothing to do with the delay in the completion of the Mamasapano probe.
He refused to set a specific date when his department could come up with results.
In late February, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, head of the National Prosecution Service, said the case would probably be resolved in March after he reviewed the findings of the investigating panel led by Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez.
Caparas, however, later told reporters that the result of the investigation was not yet available for release and would instead be released at a later date.
Suarez in January said it would be hard to resolve the criminal complaints before the first anniversary of the clash. The prosecutor, however, said Arellano had instructed him and the other members of the panel to “prioritize” the case.
The 90 respondents in the case”•identified by a star witness known only by the code name Marathon”•belong to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, its splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and local private armed groups.
The clash took place in a cornfield in Mamasapano after Philippine National Police-Special Action Force operatives entered an area controlled by the MILF to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
Marwan, a suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings, was killed in the operation dubbed Oplan Exodus.