‘Review operations guidelines in MILF areas’

We only wish to avoid incidents like the ambush in Ampatuan, Maguindanao in which our policemen lost their lives.

September 3, 2022

A Basilan lawmaker has called for the review of the established set of mechanisms to coordinate law enforcement operations within declared Moro Islamic Liberation Front areas in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

During the Committee on Appropriations budget hearing last Thursday, Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said it is necessary to “reassess the effectiveness of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group.”

Hataman made the call to both the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity after the Ampatuan police chief and another policeman were killed in an ambush as they were on their way to Barangay Kapinpilan to serve an arrest warrant.

Three other cops were wounded during its “One-Time, Big Time” operation, which was supposed to arrest Kamir Kambal, who is wanted for robbery and intimidation of persons.

AHJAG is a coordinative body created in 2002 tasked to coordinate, monitor, and disseminate information among the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and MILF to effect the apprehension of suspected criminal elements within MILF areas.

“We have a mechanism for legitimate police operations in areas that are declared MILF areas. Maybe it just needs to be reviewed, strengthened and approved by those in charge. We only wish to avoid incidents like the ambush in Ampatuan, Maguindanao in which our policemen lost their lives,” Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct ARMM, said.

During the briefing, PNP chief P/Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. admitted that no coordination was made with the MILF when the police attempted to serve a warrant of arrest in Ampatuan, a declared MILF area.

The PNP chief said the subject of the arrest warrant was an alleged member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an extremist group operating in parts of Mindanao.

“They were in uniform, they were onboard a mobile patrol. So, if what they are saying is that they did not coordinate, Sir, it is very visible. Those who enter that area are uniformed PNP personnel serving a legitimate warrant of arrest issued by a competent court,” Azurin said.

“And what is being said that we need to coordinate with the identified MILF camp, Sir, I have been assigned in the same place when I was a lieutenant, and I know that when you coordinate, the probability, Sir, that the work turns negative is huge,” he explained.

However, Hataman pointed out the AHJAG should have served as a mechanism to prevent miscommunication when undertaking police operations and effecting the arrests of lawless elements in MILF areas.

Initial police investigation revealed a group of BIFF men under “Boy Jacket” was behind the shooting, which killed Lt. Reynaldo Samson and Cpl. Salipudin Endab, and wounded M/Sgt. Renante Quinilayo and Cpls. Rogelio de la Cuesta and Marc Clint Dayaday on 30 August.

Hours following the ambush, the PNP relieved Col. Christopher Panapan as Maguindanao police chief.


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