Several members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) involved in the Jan. 25 killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano have been identified, the Inquirer learned on Wednesday.
Among those identified were rebels who appeared on videos of the clash that showed the execution of wounded SAF commandos, one of several sources who have knowledge of the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the Mamasapano tragedy said.
"Not all but several names of Moro rebels who participated in the Mamasapano incident, including some of those who appeared on the videos obtained by the NBI, were already with the Department of Justice investigating team," said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly on the matter.
The DOJ investigative team led by State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera and National Bureau of Investigation agents went to Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, last week and talked to several witnesses to the daylong fighting between SAF commandos and guerrillas from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the MILF.
Forty-four SAF commandos, 18 MILF guerrillas and five civilians were killed in the fighting that marred a successful Philippine National Police mission to take down international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias "Marwan."
The Inquirer sources said the Moro rebels on three videos of the clash were identified because they called each other by name.
One source said that of the three videos, only the six-minute footage showing a SAF commando being shot at close range was uploaded to the Internet. The video went viral on social media, sparking widespread public anger.
Two other videos
"Two other videos obtained by the NBI had not been uploaded and had not been seen by the public showed Moro rebels collecting the firearms and personal belongings of the dead SAF members," the source said.
"The other video also showed Moro rebels stripping the SAF members of their uniforms, boots and pants except for their underwear," the source added.
The Moro rebels on the videos were speaking in the Maguindanao dialect and they were identifiable because their images were clear, another source said.
The NBI tracked down at least three people, all of them non-Muslims, who had copies of the original videos that came from various areas in Mindanao, the source said.
The holders of the video cooperated with the NBI, submitting their laptops and cell phones to investigators for forensic investigation, the source said.
They insisted, however, that they did not know who took the videos, claiming they got the videos on their cell phones and laptops through Bluetooth, the source said.
The NBI said earlier that the videos had not been tampered with.
NBI computer experts said the materials in the agency's possession were in their original form.
The video of the SAF commando being shot has been taken down following appeals from Philippine National Police officials for its removal from the Internet.
A source said the videos were subjected to a frame-by-frame analysis by the NBI-Cybercrime Division and the results of the forensic examination were submitted to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
De Lima earlier said that the video would be part of the evidence in filing cases against the people responsible for the deaths of the 44 SAF commandos.
Under international humanitarian law, "circumstances" like an armed conflict cannot be used to justify "barbaric and cruel" acts punishable by law, she said.