Families of 44 slain SAF commandos not legible for $5M reward — official PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 February 2015 14:33

Families of the 44 police commandos who perished in an anti-terror operation that went awry in southern Philippines after they clashed with Muslim rebels on January 25, cannot claim the US$5 million reward money put up by the United States government on Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was reported to have been killed in that operation, an official of the Philippine National Police said.

ABS-CBN News in its website post Friday quoted Senior Supt. Jose Gentiles, police attache at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, as saying that only civilian informants are eligible for the bounty put up for Marwan’s head.

“It is not the [Special Action Force]. As a general rule, no government employee linke the SAF or Philippine National Police or the Philippine Army or any member of Armed Forces of the Philippines...is eligible to receive any bounty because it’s part of their job to arrest a wanted person,” Gentiles said.

He explained that the reward would be given to those who gave the information. It’s an incentive to speed up efforts to  locate a wanted person.

Gentiles said the identity of the informant will remain confidential.

No bounty will be given to an ineligible informant if the person turns out to be a government employee or official, he further said.

A total of 44 police commandos of the Philippine National Police’s  Special Action Force were killed in the January 25 deadly clash with fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province where Marwan was hiding together with Basit Usman, his Filipino bomb maker counterpart.

MILF had signed a peace treaty with the Philippine government in March 27 last year.

The operation on Marwan also killed more than a dozen MILF rebels and civilians.

SAF commandos who killed Marwan severed his right index finger and took photos of his body because they couldn’t carry it amid heavy fighting.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation later said the DNA sample provided by Philippine authorities belongs to Marwan.

“Although the results of the DNA examinations do not provide absolute identification, the results do support that the biological sample provided by Philippine authorities came from Marwan. Further testing and analysis will be conducted by laboratory examiners in an effort to fully identify the subject of DNA provided to the FBI,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. told ABS-CBN News the sacrifice of the 44 police commandos was not in vain as he expressed his condolences to their family members.

The ambassador said he is also pleased that the FBI quickly confirmed the DNA samples provided by the PNP were that of the Malaysian terror suspect.

“We are thankful to the FBI that they have come back very quickly to us confirming that the DNA results show the person who was killed by the 44 by the Special Forces Commandos was Marwan himself. That should dispel any doubts that people have that it was Marwan of course we lost 44 heroes unfortunately but I think we are, of course gratified to know that this very dangerous, very much sought after terrorist has finally been eliminated Cuisia said.

Gentiles said he coordinated the DNA testing of Marwan’s sample at an FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.

“The result of a preliminary testing indicates that the tissues (taken from Marwan’s finger) match the tissues of his brother who is detained in Guantanamo, Cuba,”he said.

House Representative Neri Colmenares had earlier asked the Philippine government to give the US$5 million reward to the families of the 44 slain commandos.

“That may somewhat compensate for the loss of their loved ones,”Colmenares said.

In a statement to Philippine newspapers, Colmenares said the national government or officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) should not benefit from this “because they are the reason for the botched operation.”

“The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the US government should also attend the probes to explain their alleged involvement in the operation,” he said.

Other Filipinos are calling on the government to divide the US$5 million among the families of the 44 slain police troopers

Lawyer and gun enthusiast Ernesto Tabujara III suggested in a letter to a newspaper to  divide and distribute it equally to the families of the 44 Special Action Force officers and men who were killed in the Mamasapano battle.

“The honorable thing to do with the reward money is to split it evenly among the families of the slain 44 SAF troopers,” Tabujara said.  His computation is that approximately each family will receive P5million.

“I can only agree to this (Tabujara’s) proposition, since it is clear there are no civilian informers who can lay claim to the reward money, on account of official revelations that it was actually through the intelligence reports gathered by suspended Philippine National Police chief Gen. Alan Purisima that Marwan was traced and ultimately killed,” said lawyer-columnist Melanio Mauricio.

Marwan, described as Southeast Asia’s Osama bin Laden, was one of the most wanted terrorists in the FBI list. He was blamed for many bombing incidents in the region, including the one in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002.