Aquino junks ‘alternative version’ he himself bared

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III dismissed as “baseless and senseless” his own declaration that there is an “alternative version” to the story of the police commandos who went on a controversial mission to “neautralize” Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir last January.

Aquino backtracked on his “alternative version” as informed sources in Mindanao claimed that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front fabricated the story to create a public image that would help rally support for the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law  and the Liberal Party.

Alternative version. President Benigno Aquino III shows images of the slain Malaysian terrorist Marwan during a press conference in Malacañang on Thursday. Malacañang Photo Bureau

But Aquino claimed in a televised address on Thursday that new findings showed that the Special Action Force police commandos were the ones responsible for the death of Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

“It is clear from the presentation today: the SAF were there; we can no longer doubt that it was the SAF who took Marwan’s finger. This also means: All the other accounts about the alternative narrative are baseless and senseless,” Aquino said.

“We must also remember: the bounty imposed on Marwan, whether in or outside our country, was enormous. It should not come as a surprise that there are many who hope to obtain the reward, and are trying to muddle the discussions about the matter,” he said.

“Our investigation has allowed us to gain clarity on the matter,” he added. “Now that the conversation about this alternative matter is done, the process of justice, especially for the fallen SAF 44, can continue.”

But the informed source, who asked not to be named for fear of compromising his intelligence assets, said the idea of an “alternative version” was suggested by the MILF not for the reward money, but in order to help pass the controversial BBL as drafted by the MILF.

“The MILF is the one that passed the information to Aquino contesting SAF involvement in the killing of Marwan,” the source said, adding that MILF wanted to create a public image of being defenders against terrorism when they actually harbored Marwan for some time before he was killed.

Aside from the improvement in the public perception of the MILF, the source said that would also improve the chances of Liberal Party candidates in Mindanao who are being pilloried because unconstitutional provisions in the Palace-sponsored measure.

“In the event the BBL is passed as promised by the government, it would have a dramatic effect on the LP candidates chances of winning next year in predominantly Muslim communities supportive of the BBL,” the source said.

“The MILF is dictating Aquino to remedy the problems surrounding the BBL passage which has stalled at Congress,” the source added.

Several Muslim groups, including the MILF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other rebel factions, have all voiced opposition to the MILF’s BBL.

At least 13 organization of retired and active police and military officers have expressed opposition to the Comprehension Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the BBL because of its unconstitutional provisions.

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