Complaints filed against MILF, BIFF, PAGs and other indiduals responsible for the deaths of the 55th SAC commandos at Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015

22 September 2015

In a Memorandum-Referral dated 18 September 2015, the Joint National Bureau of Investigation-National Prosecution Service Special Investigation Team (NBI-NPS SIT) filed today its complaints against ninety (90) identified respondents involved in the Mamasapano incident. The NBI-NPS SIT is a combined team of five (5) assistant state prosecutors led by Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro C. Navera and thirteen (13) NBI agents and special investigators headed by Deputy Director Edward A. Villarta.

The NBI-NPS SIT has recommended that these respondents, who are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), private armed groups (PAGS) and other unaffiliated individuals, be prosecuted for the complex crime of direct assault with murder for the killing of the thirty five (35) commandos from the Special Action Company (SAC) at Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao under Articles 148 and 248, in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. The team likewise recommended the prosecution of these MILF, BIFF, PAGs members and other individuals for theft of government property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code for their unlawful taking of government-issued firearms, ammunition, communications and navigational equipment, personal protective gear, uniforms, combat boots and even personal effects (e.g., watches, wallets, cellphones) of the 55th SAC commandos.

Because these ninety (90) respondents acted in conspiracy with one another to attack, employ force, seriously intimidate or resist the thirty five (35) SAF commandos, who were uniformed police officers and, thus, persons in authority, each of these respondents is individually charged with thirty five (35) counts of direct assault with murder. The direct assault on the SAF commandos deteriorated into and became complexed with murder when the latter were killed by these respondents with the qualifying  circumstances of treachery and abuse of superior strength under Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code. The team notes that some of the SAF commandos were killed by the respondents by means of close range pistol shots to the head and body when the victims were already injured or dying and no longer had any means to resist or defend themselves.

The following is a recapitulation of the number of respondents and their respective insurgent membership (or non-affiliation):





No Affiliation/PAGs




The charge for direct assault with murder leaves room for several John Does as more information regarding the identities of other MILF, BIFF, PAGs and other unaffiliated individuals may be obtained by the investigators and/or preliminary investigation panel in its future hearings.

According to eyewitnesses interviewed by the NBI-NPS SIT, there were close to a thousand MILF, BIFF, PAGs and other elements who participated in the attack and killing of the 55th SAC commandos. Recall that only one commando, PO2 Christopher I. Lalan, survived the debacle at the Tukanalipao cornfield. These 90 respondents were identified by five (5) eyewitnesses, including the witness codenamed MARATHON. The lack of additional witnesses explains the glaring disparity between the estimated number of assailants and the limited number of identified respondents.

The present complaints for direct assault with murder and theft of government property do not cover the deaths of the nine (9) SAF commandos of the 84th Seaborne Company who attempted to arrest but later neutralized Zulkifli Bin Hir a.k.a. "Marwan" at his hut in Barangay Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Secretary De Lima has earlier ordered the NBI-NPS SIT to continue its second phase of investigation with the goal of ferreting out the circumstances surrounding the deaths of these 84th Seaborne commandos and the identities of their MILF, BIFF, PAGs and other assailants, based on the team's recommendations in its First Report.

The filing of these complaints commences the preliminary investigation of these cases pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. If the complaint is found to be sufficient in form and substance, among the first tasks of the preliminary investigation panel is to issue the subpoenas to these ninety (90) respondents in their last known addresses indicated in the complaint. Despite the heinousness of the acts they committed against the valiant commandos of the 55th SAC commandos, these respondents will be given due process. This is clear testament to the DOJ's adherence to the rule of law, due process and its inherent sense of fair play.

The Second Report of the NBI-NPS SIT is in the final stages of preparation. It must be emphasized that the second phase of investigation is highly dependent on new eyewitnesses who can narrate the incident from the vantage point of a Mamasapano or Pidsandawan resident. It will also detail the extent of the American participation in Oplan EXODUS and the criminal liability, if any, of PO2 Lalan for alleged civilian and MILF deaths at Mamasapano on January 25, 2015.

Secretary De Lima sincerely thanks the witnesses who have bravely come forward and cooperated with the NBI-NPS SIT despite the clear danger to their lives and families. The identities of these witnesses might have to be revealed in the course of the preliminary investigation, which will put their security all the more at risk from these respondents and other unidentified MILF, BIFF, PAGs elements and other individuals who are all still at large. The indispensable help of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the intelligence agencies and various other civilian government offices who lent their assistance and facilities to the team during its fact-finding investigation cannot be measured.

These MILF, BIFF, PAGs and other individuals (including those who are still unidentified) involved in the carnage at Mamasapano must all be held to account before our courts of law. In a system where the rule of law reigns supreme, they enjoy no impunity for their crimes at Mamasapano. These complaints are just the start of a long quest for justice for the dead SAF commandos and their families. But it is fervently hoped that a fair and objective preliminary investigation on the Mamasapano incident will attest to the adage that while justice may grind slowly it grinds exceedingly well.


A copy of the Text of Memorandum-Referral dated 18 September 2015 can be accessed at the DOJ website through this link /files/2015/speeches/Attachments/Memorandum-Referral%20dated%2018%20September%202015.pdf


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