PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Justice Department to update him on the status of the January 2015 Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandoes were killed in a botched covert operation under the previous administration, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Sunday.
The case of direct assault with murder has been filed against 88 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups that led to the death of 44 members of the Special Action Force and international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
Charged for direct assault with murder are five commanders: Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan, Rakman, Refy Guiaman, Anife and Haumves alias Haves, operation commander of the 105th MILF Base Command and 83 others.
Aguirre said as of December, the Cotabato court had ordered the prosecution to submit additional documents, including the birth certificates of the accused.
“They could not prove the identity of the accused because they are almost 100. So the prosecution is submitting that. Until now, the Cotabato court has not issued a ruling on probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest,” Aguirre said.
He also ordered prosecutors to move for the transfer of the trial to Manila.
On Jan. 25, 2015, the slain police commandos were deployed to Mamasapano to capture wanted terrorists Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman.
Marwan, a Malaysian bomb maker with a bounty from the US government, was killed during the operations.
The operation resulted in the death of Marwan but also sparked a fierce encounter that claimed the lives of 44 SAF members.