POSTSCRIPT / February 8, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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DNA tests still have to identify Marwan

‘TEKA MUNA’: Was it really the dreaded Malaysian terrorist bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir (aka Marwan) that the PNP Special Action Force commandos killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Jan. 25?

There is still a slim possibility that the man whose index finger was cut off for DNA matching may not be conclusively identified as Marwan. Our saying “teka muna” is going against the prevailing assumption that it was indeed Marwan, but….

Until now I have not found a categorical statement from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation that the man taken down by SAF was indeed Marwan. Most of what we hear and read in media are extended commentaries of the FBI announcement.

* * *

MATCHING, NOT IDENTIFYING: The FBI simply stated that its DNA tests had shown that the finger tissue taken from the corpse “MATCHED” samples taken from a brother of Marwan (not Marwan himself) detained by US authorities in California.

We need a categorical FBI statement that its DNA tests had conclusively IDENTIFIED the Mamasapano corpse as Marwan.

The problem of the FBI is that it does not have in its data base tissue samples of Marwan himself to compare or match with the finger tissue taken from the dead man in Mamasapano.

Further tests may later prove that the corpse was Marwan, but until then let us be careful about propagating the premature conclusion that it was him. Also, it might be best to stop speculating to whom the $5-million reward on his head would go.

* * *

P-NOY BELIEVES IT, TOO: President Noynoy Aquino is among the high officials who have assumed that the SAF commandos had killed Marwan. It is not clear what his basis is for believing it, but he may have information not available to the public.

To put the lingering identity question to rest, the President may want to share this vital information with the public. However, if he has not confirmed it yet, maybe he should be careful about spreading it.

We understand why he wants it believed that Marwan was killed in Mamasapano. If true, it would help assuage the hurt of the bereaved families of the fallen 44 SAF members.

The killing of Marwan would also help justify his having taken the risky step of fielding the PNP’s finest fighters with a minimum of coordination vertically within the PNP chain and horizontally with support units of the armed forces.

* * *

IT’S LIBERATING: The President may have discovered, meanwhile, that it does not hurt to tell the truth and to take the blame even when an operation under one’s responsibility goes awry.

The morning after he addressed the nation on the Mamasapano operation and announced he was taking full responsibility for the debacle, he must have felt some load lifted off his chest.

He also accepted the resignation of PNP Director General Alan Purisima, who is widely believed to have run by remote control — with the knowledge of the President — the operation where SAF members were butchered by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

“I am the father of this country and 44 of my children were killed,” the President said. “This tragedy happened during my term and I will carry this to the end of my days.”

* * *

PURE ALAN: Purisima deflected the blame from himself by explaining in a GMA-7 interview: “I was suspended. I was not in command. This was the role of the ground commander.”

He tossed the blame to SAF commander Getulio Napeñas who had been sacked by the President based on information reaching him, some of it presumably from Purisima.

Having been on top of the Marwan case since he was still PNP chief, Purisima had actionable intelligence that he shared directly with the President, bypassing DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP acting chief Leonardo Espina.

Espina was informed only when the operation involving close to 400 of his men was already ongoing. At that late hour, around 5:30 a.m. that bloody Sunday, the withdrawing SAF commandos were already being decimated by heavy fire.

* * *

IT’S RIVILLA!: Paniqui Mayor Miguel Cojuangco Rivilla, meanwhile, is set to re-assume his post next month after the Commission on Elections en banc upheld a 2013 court ruling dismissing a protest filed by a losing candidate backed by a powerful Cojuangco bloc in Tarlac.

Rivilla can re-assume his post only 30 days after the Comelec resolution’s promulgation last Jan. 30, the mayor explained in last Friday’s forum held at the Clark Freeport by the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) in cooperation with Clark Development Corp. and the Social Security System.

Rivilla also vowed to file with the Supreme Court a complaint of abuse of discretion against Judge Agapito Laoagan Jr. of RTC Branch 67 in Paniqui and seek his disbarment.

Laoagan reversed earlier decisions of Judge Serafin Cruz of the same sala dismissing a poll protest filed against Rivilla by the loser Rommel David of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, organized by Rivilla’s uncle, former ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.

Upon his appointment as assisting judge of RTC-Branch 67 on Oct. 21, 2013, Loagan entertained and favored David’s second motion, ignoring Judge Cruz’s previous final decisions that had thrown out David’s poll protest and his first motion of reconsideration.

The Comelec ruling upheld the decision of its First Division of Nov. 12, 2014, that voided all orders and decisions of RTC Branch 67 under Laoagan from Dec. 23, 2013 (the date the judge entertained David’s second motion for reconsideration) onwards.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 8, 2015)

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