More Mamasapano residents witnessed deep US involvement in botched operation

February 17, 2015

Mission members pass through the wooden bridge in Brgy Tukanalipao. <b>KR Guda</b>

Mission members pass through the wooden bridge in Brgy Tukanalipao. KR Guda

Testimonies of many residents of Brgy. Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town of Maguindanao province further point to direct US military involvement in the botched Jan. 25 operation that killed 44 police commandos, 18 Moro fighters and at least two civilians.

All the witnesses, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told members of a fact-finding mission led by human rights groups Suara Bangsamoro, Kawagib, and Kalinaw Mindanao, as well as to Pinoy Weekly, that they saw at least one Caucasian fatality among the remains of Special Action Force (SAF) members after the armed encounter in Tukanalipao.

Residents of Brgy. Pidsandawan recall the presence of purported spy planes or drones every day for about seven days before the actual botched operation. They asked that their faces not be shown to public. <b>KR Guda</b>

Residents of Brgy. Pidsandawan recall the presence of purported spy planes or drones every day for about seven days before the actual botched operation. They asked that their faces not be shown to public. KR Guda

A male farmer told mission members that he helped carry the body of the said Caucasian fatality. Asked how he knew that the body was that of a Caucasian, the purported witness pointed to a Caucasian member of the mission who is a British citizen.

Pinoy Weekly joined the fact-finding mission of the said groups in Mamasapano on February 8 to 11.

As reported by Pinoy Weekly on January 30,  another witness earlier talked to the Suara Bangsamoro’s spokesperson, Jerome Succor Aba, and said he saw a white, blue-eyed body among the fatalities composed mainly of fallen SAF commandos in Brgy. Tukanalipao.

Another resident said he was able to get the boots of the Caucasian fatality. The boots, he said, were even too big even for a member of the community with the biggest set of feet.

Here is part of a transcript of an interview, translated in Filipino from Maguindanaoan, between Amirah Lidasan of Suara Bangsamoro and three male residents of Tukanalipao, who also asked not to be named:

Man 1: Maraming namatay doon.

Amirah: Saan?

Man 1: Kasama nito…

Man 1: ‘Yung sinasabi nila sa atin na tayo yung masama.

Amirah: Sa MILF na ano ito? (Kwana kasi)

Man 1: Ipagpalagay natin na kami na yun nagmumukhang may kasalanan pero hindi mangyayari yun kung hindi sila pumunta dito…kasi ang media kapag may sinasabi kami kakaunti lang at pinagpipilian lang nila ang kinukuha nila.

Man 2: Nandun yung mga malalaking tao diba?

Man 1: Oo nandun yun. Malalaki talaga sila. yung boots nila malalaki…..kasi yun lalaki sa amin na may pinakamalaking paa nung sinuot niya yung boots maluwag pa.

Man 2: Doon din yung mga kasama nila mga blue-eyed. (Man said “bul’g”, which means blue)

Amirah: Mga ilan sila?

Man 1: Hindi namin sigurado kung ilan ang dami nila. Pero dito sila dumaan (may tinuturo). Sinasabi nila, mga 60 or 80 ang bilang nila pero ako doon ako maniwala na 65 silang lahat kasama nung mga blue-eyed mga 20 yung dumaan doon (may tinuturong lugar).

Man 2: Mas maraming namatay kaysa buhay. Kasi hindi na nila nadala yung ibang bangkay.

Man 3: Yung sapatos na yung ebidensya.

Amirah: May sapatos kayo?

Man 3: Kahit yung kutsilyo galing U.S. Magaganda ang itsura.

Mission member Eule Bonganay of the child rights advocates’ group Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) said students from the Linantangan Elementary School who were part of a psycho-social activity said they also saw the Caucasian fatality. Asked how they were sure it was a Caucasian, the children pointed to the British Caucasian member of the mission.

Residents of Brgy. Tukanalipao, as well as that of Pidsandawan, Lusay and Tuka also testified to the presence of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones hovering over their communities.

“It was noisy, and disturbed our sleep,” said one resident. The drones purportedly flew over at least four barangays in Mamasapano at least seven days before the bloody encounter. “It flickered in the dark,” as another resident described it.

Residents of Brgy. Pidsandawan and Tuka described the drone as “like an airplane.”

Aside from the use of drones as well as actual US soldiers in the botched operation, media outlets have also independently reported on the involvement of US government, from intelligence gathering to the operation itself.

But the witnesses’ revelations to the fact-finding mission point directly to US involvement in the actual combat operation in Mamasapano, which is a violation of the 1987 Constitution which bans foreign troops from directly engaging in armed combat in the country.

This interview by Kilab Multimedia–which joined the fact-finding mission–shows a Tukanalipao resident describing a body of “foreign-looking person” that he helped carry after the bloody encounter on January 25.