Miriam sees ‘truth distortion’ in MILF claim on Marwan, Usman location

Members of a religious group rally outside the Senate while the inquiry on the Mamasapano clash is ongoing on Monday. The group called for the scrapping of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in light of the clash that claimed the lives of 44 SAF policemen in the hands of Muslim rebels. (MNS photo)

Members of a religious group rally outside the Senate while the inquiry on the Mamasapano clash is ongoing on Monday. The group called for the scrapping of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in light of the clash that claimed the lives of 44 SAF policemen in the hands of Muslim rebels. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is not buying the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s claim that it was unaware of the presence of two suspected terrorists near its community in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Santiago said the MILF’s claim, as reflected on its report on the January 25 Mamasapano incident, “may be indicative of truth distortion.”

“It is ironic, I must say, and may be indicative of truth distortion, that they claim they have no knowledge of these two high-value targets the  government was pursuing and yet those people were apparently, at that particular time, just a couple of kilometers away from the hideout of the MILF,” Santiago said.

She was referring to alleged Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his Filipino ally Abdul Basit Usman, who were two of the three targets of the police Special Action Force’s Oplan Exodus last January 25.

Santiago said the MILF’s “incredible” claim “casts a shadow” on its own report, which was submitted to the Senate on Tuesday.

“Do they have to say that they have no knowledge of who were in the perimeters of their homeland? That’s an incredible claim so they cannot pass the test of credibility and that casts a shadow on the whole report,” Santiago said.

“I cannot accept that high value targets are living right there, maybe not even just the fringes, right there in the heart of their land and they disclaim any knowledge,” she added.

More than 60 people, including 44 policemen, were killed when Oplan Exodus resulted in an hours-long clash with members of the MILF and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the area. The clash occurred despite the peace and ceasefire agreements between the government and the MILF.

In its report, the MILF said Marwan and Usman were in the territory of the BIFF, located three kilometers away from what it considers as its bailiwick.

Santiago further said the claim showed that the MILF should not be a partner in the peace process.

“What does that say of their military organization? That means that if they cannot even conduct simple intelligence gathering activities, they are not capable of being treated as parties to a peace process,” she said. (MNS)

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