43 cops killed: Worst single loss of PH security forces

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – The “misencounter” between policemen and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Sunday, which resulted in 43 elite cops killed, is the worst for government security forces in recent memory.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas described the incident, which happened in the town of Mamasapano, Maguindanao, as “single largest loss of lives in recent memory involving our security forces.”

Roxas said the operation was against Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, and another terrorist, Basit Usman.

Marwan was “highly likely” killed in the operation, while Usman may have escaped, he said.

Roxas said, “there are pieces of evidence, pictures of a person that appears to be Marwan. This will be part of the post-action debriefing so that there will be corroborative information from several operatives.”

Philippine National Police officer-in-charge (OIC) Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said the Philippine National Police Special Action Forces (PNP SAF) were already withdrawing from Marwan’s bailiwick when members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked.

The PNP SAF members then “inadvertently” entered an MILF area, Roxas said.

“We are fully committed to the peace process. It’s a law enforcement operation. Hindi ito sabotahe sa peace talks,” he stressed.

Roxas believes the attractiveness of the US$5 million bounty offered for the head of Marwan is only an incidental issue, following reports the cops allegedly did not coordinate their actions in a bid to get the bounty.

“I won’t discount it, that is why there is the board of inquiry… but it’s just an incidental issue, as far as I am concerned,” he said.


Espina said he wants a full accounting of all the 392 members of an elite force deployed to run after the terrorists.

Asked about the pursuit operations against those responsible for the incident, Espina said: “I want a full accounting [of my men], ilan ang nasugatan, ilan ang buhay… First things first.”

He said he will not leave Cotabato until all his men have been accounted for. He said they will be given all the benefits and honors they deserve.

He added he will create a board of inquiry to complete the whole story, including allegations that the operation was not coordinated with the MILF.

“We are forming a board of inquiry because we’d like to get to the bottom of this. Our fallen heroes sacrificed their lives for the attainment of peace,” Espina said.

3 Comments on this post.

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  • Juan
    27 January 2015 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    43 cops killed fighting against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), while withdrawing they were ambushed by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter(BIFF)… Wala pa ang Abu Sayap,100 of them joined ISIS…Maguindanao used to be ruled by a corrupt politicians, terrorizing their owned relatives as political enemy. Now it is gone, the Government gave power to the Muslim Autonomous Government.Soon Islamic government will spend a big budget to fight the PH government and will create their own country as “Republic of Mindanao”. Tayo ang nawalan nang lupa, samamtala kung ang power ay nasa magnanakaw na Muslim na politiko hindi mamawala ang Mindanao sa dayohan.In my opinion ay mali ang pagbigay nang Autonomy Government sa mga Muslim.

  • victor
    27 January 2015 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Don’t we ever learn.Do we have to lost good soldiers with family to go back.These Muslim fighters have no honor, they fight while having s. Peace talk.Didn’t we lost a General, 2 or 3 Colonels, many Majors of the armed forces who massacre while in a approved by both sides neutral ground .All parties were supposed to come at that place unarmed which the government panel did.Unfortunately for the the Muslim faction came fully arm and it is history.Peace comes after war if it could be avoided.History shows that.War is horrible but if one side tries to impose its will to the other side war is inevitable .You can not reason up to these or bribe them.Maybe the communist will accept that but with religious group won’t.Like what Erap said all out war is the answer .After the Milf , BIFF then what.Why don’t we just give the whole Mindanao .

  • Generoso Magaoay
    4 February 2015 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Without being critical, if you are to look into the job description of PNPSAF, it would sound as through they are as realistic as the British SAS (although modeled under that service)…reading the above description is in no doubt they are the elite, the best of the best, etc. It makes the AFP (Army or Marines) looks bad (for now, yes). Too much confidence in this case is a very dangerous thing to have, enough said. Yes, maybe the leadership involved? As investigations began unfolding, serious issues on coordination start shedding some light. Additionally, some team members are not as committed in contrast to the other team members who entered Mamasapano? Knowing that you are entering a terrorist stronghold, should it ever occur to you that you need coordinates of where you at especially where Marwan was supposed to be located at? How about the area where the heavy fire fight took place? Common elite..? You cannot ask for assistance if you do not have coordinates…