Second report on the 25 January 2015 Mamasapano incident released

08 October 2015

The NBI-NPS Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the 25 January 2015 Marasapano Incident released today its 120-page Second Report bearing the date 30 September 2015.

It will be recalled that after submitting its first Report last 16 April 2015 (and released to the public on 22 April 2015), wherein it recommended, among others, the filing of complaints for the complex crime of direct assault with murder as well as for theft against 90 individuals who were positively identified by witnesses as among those involved in the killing of 35 commandos of the 55th SAC-SAF at Brgy. Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, the NBI-NPS SIT was further tasked to undertake further evidence gathering relative to the following matters:
1. The events that transpired involving the 84th Seaborne commandos in their assault on the hut of Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan at Brgy. Pidsandawan, Mamasapano;
2. The identity and possible criminal liability of the persons responsible for the killing of the 84th Seaborne commandos;
3. The identity and possible criminal liability of those responsible for the alleged killing by SAF commandos of MILF members and civilians and for injuries sustained by the alleged victims; and
4. The extent of the American involvement in the planning, execution and post-action of Oplan EXODUS.
Hereunder are the highlights of the Team's findings and conclusions arrived at after five (5) more months (from the release of the first Report) of extensive investigation and judicious analysis and assessment of evidence, viz:
  • The killing of 9 members of the 84th Seaborne Company was duly established and that said killing was the result of a series of deliberate acts by armed individuals with whom the 84th Seaborne engaged in a brief firefight in the course of the assault on Marwan's hut. Intent to kill is conclusively presumed from the mere fact of their death.
  • The surviving commandos of the 84th Seaborne led by P/Supt Raymund A. Train gave very credible accounts on what happened at Brgy. Pidsandawan, that indeed Marwan was killed in the course of the assault and as proof, P/Insp. Gednat G. Tabdi severed the left index finger of Marwan. Not only are their individual testimonies credible, but surviving 84th Seaborne commandos are themselves credible. (For easy reference, the relevant portions of the accounts, as summarized, found at pp. 90-108 of the Second Report are hereto attached as Annex "A")
  • There were attempts from certain walk-in individuals to muddle the investigation by presenting an all-together "alternative" version of the events at Brgy. Pidsandawan. But, upon vetting and analysis of the allegations preferred by these shady individuals, the Team dismissed their narrations as incredulous as they are wholly unverifiable and not supported by any shred of independent testimonial and documentary evidence.
  • While the existence of a crime has been established in the killing of the 9 (nine) 34th Seaborne commandos, the identity of those responsible therefor was not so established. Despite diligent efforts, the NBI-NPS SIT failed to find a single credible witness on the identity of those involved in the killing of said commandos. Hence, no criminal prosecution may be recommended by the Team.
  • Same is true with the alleged killing of several residents, i.e., MILF and civilian casualties, as alleged by the MILF and reported in the media, as attributed to P02 Christopher I. Lalan, the lone survivor among the 55th SAC commandos. Despite the Team's repeated requests, the MILF or any of the next of kin of the alleged victims failed to submit any proof of death of the supposed victims of P02 Lalan.
  • While the NBI forensic team was able to recover a pillow case, a piece of linoleum cut and a black shoe from the langgal in Sitio Amalil, alleged site of the killing of civilians, these are not conclusive proof of the death of said persons.
  • In the absence of the corpus delicti, no charges can be filed against P02 Lalan for whatever crimes he may have allegedly committed at Brgy. Tukanalipao.
  • American participation in Oplan EXODUS was only limited to the giving of intelligence and technical support and medical evacuation. They did not take part in actual fighting.
  • Specifically, the Americans thru the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) provided SAF with crucial intelligence information; deployed fixed wing surveillance aircraft over Mamasapano to provide real time Intelligence Surveillance and Recognizance (ISR) imagery to the Tactical Command Post (TCP) of the situation on the ground, and provided personnel to man and operate surveillance and communication equipment at the TCP. But these American intelligence and technical personnel did not participate in actual combat with MILF, BIFF and PAGs at Mamasapano. Neither did these Americans give directions or orders to the SAF commandos.
  • There were no "Americans" or "Caucasians" among the dead. There were SAF commandos who had fair complexion among the dead, e.g., PSI Tabdi, P03 Noel O. Golocan and P01 Romeo C. Cempron, who may have been mistaken as "Caucasians". There is no doubt that only Filipino commandos and their local guides fought in Brgys. Pidsandawan and Tukanalipao on 25 January 2015. As to the video alleged showing a 'blue-eyed man' as among the dead, the identity of the SAF commando seen in the video was later revealed by a widow of one of the fallen SAF commandos as her late husband, P01 Oliebet L. Viernes.
  • The Joint NBI-NP5 SIT is of the view that the nature and extent of the American involvement, i.e., no American troops/personnel in actual combat, covert ISR role, use of surveillance aircraft, which were not armed attack planes and did not engage in or conduct air strikes, presence and setting up of ISR monitor at the TCP and medical evacuation and humanitarian assistance, did not violate the Constitution, the Revised Penal Code or other special penal laws.
  • While there were procedural and chain of custody lapses on the SAF's part in immediately turning over Marwan's finger to FBI representatives that may have short-circuited the PNP leadership chain as well as the policy-making hierarchy of the Executive Department, such does not constitute any violation of our penal laws.
As in the case of the first Report, the Second Report is being released to the public in redacted version. The redactions are necessary in order to protect sources, methods and capabilities of the PNP, AFP and their United States military and law enforcement counterparts. Recall that at present there is still an existing Mutual Defense Treaty and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the Philippines and the United States. Secret and classified information (including information that may adversely affect national defense and the continuing counter-terrorism campaign of both the Philippines and the United States) obtained during the course of the NBI-NPS SIT's investigation all need to be kept secret or confidential.
The redactions in the Second Report are legal and based on settled jurisprudence. In Chavez v. PCGG, G.R. No. 130716, December 9, 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that "this jurisdiction recognizes the common law holding that there is a governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and other national security matters." The same case held that "also excluded are classified law enforcement matters, such as those relating to the apprehension, prosecution and detention of criminals, which courts may not require into prior to such arrest, detention and prosecution. Efforts at effective law enforcement would be seriously jeopardized by free public access, for example, police information regarding rescue operations, the whereabouts of fugitives, or leads on covert criminal activities."
While the NBI-NPS SIT's two (2) unredacted reports were completed for the President and the Secretary of Justice, the public can read the gist of the narratives and appreciate the chronology in the redacted version. The names of persons and their circumstances, military weapons and platforms, intelligence techniques and procedures, as well as some scientific and technological matters were excised from the original version. The Secretary of Justice hopes that the public as well as the families of the SAF commandos will understand. With or without the redactions, it must be stressed that the Second Report of the NBI-NPS SIT was completed after a very thorough investigation. The Secretary of Justice salutes the witnesses for their courage to cooperate with the Government to give justice to the fallen SAF commandos.


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