POSTSCRIPT / March 10, 2015 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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FBI is not yet 100% sure Marwan’s dead?

DNA TESTS: President Noynoy Aquino must know something about high-value Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, that even the US Federal Bureau of Investigation does not know for sure.

In a “bull session” last Wednesday, President Aquino told the PNP Special Action Force commandos who survived the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre that the SAF’s Oplan Exodus killed Marwan.

Yet the FBI, which conducted DNA tests on a finger taken from somebody that SAF believed was Marwan, has been unable until yesterday (six weeks after he was killed) to say categorically that the dead man was the terrorist on whose head was an “up to” $5-million reward.

The President’s account of Marwan’s supposed death was given by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who was with the Commander-in-Chief when he met the SAF troopers at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Diniin ng SAF troopers that ‘we got Marwan’… ang sabi ng Pangulo, walang kumekwestyon doon,” Roxas reported, adding“kinilala ng Pangulo na ang SAF nga ang nakakuha sa kanya.”

* * *

NOT 100% SURE: This bystander is 99.99 percent sure that the dead man who owned that index finger subjected to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing was Marwan.

But check for yourself. Visit the FBI website ( listing 30 “most wanted terrorists”. Marwan, with two vintage 2000 pictures and several aliases, is still there as “wanted”. If indeed he had been killed, he would have been pulled off the list.

The FBI said: “It is… important to note that these individuals will remain wanted in connection with their alleged crimes until such time as the charges are dropped or when credible physical evidence is obtained, which proves with 100 percent accuracy, that they are deceased.”(emphasis mine)

Earlier news said the FBI compared tissue from the finger with that taken from Marwan’s brother detained in California. While the two samples “matched”, the FBI could not yet say the dead man was Marwan, as it did not have a file sample of his DNA for comparison.

Comparison for matching is different from identification. To erase all doubts, the FBI should issue a statement categorically identifying the man killed by SAF commandos as Marwan, and then remove him from its wanted list.

* * *

TRAINED IN U.S.: Marwan, 49, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for “providing material support to terrorists; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; contributing goods and services to a specially designated global terrorist; making false statements.”

He is thought to be the head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and a member of Jemaah Islamiyah’s (JI) central command. He is allegedly a supplier to terrorist organizations and conducts bomb-making training for terrorist organizations, specifically the Abu Sayyaf Group. He is an engineer trained in the US.

Among his aliases are: Hulagu, Lagu, Musa Abdul Hir, Ahmad Shobirin, Armand Escalante, Hassan, Henri Lawi, Muslimin Abdulmotalib, Norhana Mohamad, Normina, Hashim, Omar Salem, and Salim Alombra. Hiding in Mindanao since 2003, he speaks Malaysian, English and Tagalog.

* * *

NO BOI REPORT: The postponement of the release yesterday of the Mamasapano  report of the PNP Board of Inquiry kicked up cries of possible manipulation by Malacañang to save the President from blame, particularly for the death of 44 SAF commandos.

With its credibility plunging, it was useless for Malacañang to have denied insinuations that a cover-up, whitewash or laundry job was in progress.

The BoI is not under the care of the presidential press office. The latter should have left the explaining of the delay to Director Benjamin B. Magalong, the BoI head, who asked for at least three more days to wrap up the report.

Magalong, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, struck me as trustworthy. When he said yesterday he would not let a less-than-truthful BoI report ruin his reputation and that of the PNP, I believed him.

* * *

NO TALK, NO MISTAKE: Malacañang is not helping Magalong submit a credible report by ignoring the BoI’s request to interview the President, coursed through Roxas who chairs the National Police Commission.

There was a similar failure to cooperate with ex-PNP chief Alan Purisima, who refused to give the BoI access to the cellphone where his alleged text messages to and from the President had been saved.

Why are the two long-time buddies afraid to talk? What are they hiding? No talk, no mistake?

Their conspiracy of silence reinforces the impression that Oplan Exodus was carried out by Purisima outside the PNP chain of command on direct orders of his President.

Also missing from the BoI report is the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Palace negotiating panel itself has been unwilling and unable to extract a copy of the MILF report.

* * *

HINDSIGHT: But it appears that the President ignored the BoI request because he had his own avenue for explaining what he did and did not do in connection with Oplan Exodus.

Speaking in a prayer rally in the Palace grounds yesterday afternoon, the President played his usual blame game. He said the Mamasapano debacle was the fault of then SAF chief Getulio Napeñas who was the top PNP officer on the ground.

The President said Napeñas, familiar with the terrain and the local culture, should have aborted the operation when it became clear it was a mission impossible. He said the jump-off alone, planned at 2:30 a.m. was delayed, resulting in daylight overtaking the SAF troops.

Had he known the operation would be as faulty as Napeñas managed it, the President said, he would not have approved it.

The problem, Mr. President, is that you are talking in hindsight. Today is not even the morning after. The massacre has been more than a month ago.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 10, 2015)

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