De Lima: No whitewash on SAF case
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Sunday debunked insinuations that there could be whitewash in the investigation of the Department of Justice on the case of nine of the 44 slain Special Action Force commandos in the Mamasapano clash last January.
De Lima made the statement following criticisms on the second part of the Mamasapano investigation report released last week where no charges were filed—unlike in the case of the 35 SAF men where 90 commanders and members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups were charged with complex crime of direct assault with murder.
De Lima deplored the insinuation made by former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas, that there could be whitewash in the probe, saying it was “very unfair and unfounded.”
“I suggest that Napeñas and the other critics read first the full text, albeit reducted, of the 2nd Report, before passing judgment,” De Lima said in a text message.
The outgoing Justice secretary stressed that the team of DoJ prosecutors and National Bureau of Investigation agents failed to establish the identities of the killers of the commandos from the 84th SAF company in Barangay Pidsandawan.
“We can only do so much. We cannot invent our findings,” De Lima said.
In the 120-page report, which forms the second part of the DoJ fact-finding report on the Mamasapano clash, probers concluded there was indeed crime committed as the death of the nine members “were the result of a series of deliberate acts by armed individuals with whom the 84th Seaborne engaged in a brief firefight in the course of the assault on Marwan’s [international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir] hut.”
However, since the identities of the killers are unknown, charges cannot be filed just yet.
The DOJ said no case can also be filed against Police Officer 2 Christopher Lalan, lone survivor from the 55th SAF command, for the death of 18 MILF members and five civilians due to failure of MILF or relatives of the supposed victims to submit any proof of death despite repeated request from the probe team.
The DOJ has already started the preliminary investigation on the criminal charges against 90 MILF, BIFF and PAGs commanders tagged in the death of the 35 SAF men who belonged to the 55th SAF company in the cornfields of Brgy. Tukanalipao.
A panel of prosecutors was created last week to conduct the PI on the charges of direct assault with murder and theft stemming from the first part of the fact-finding report released last April.