88 indicted for murder in Mamasapano massacre


The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday approved the indictment for murder of 88 commanders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups in the January 2025 bloody Mamasapano incident in which 44 policemen were killed.

Among those to be charged were five MILF commanders identified as Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan and Rakman, both of the 118th base command, and Refy Guiaman, Anife and Haumves alias Haves, all of the 105th base command.

Prosecutor general Claro Arellano said the charges would be filed before the Maguindanao Regional Trial Court.

In a 55-page resolution, government prosecutors ruled there’s probable cause to file charges of the complex crime of direct assault with murder against the respondents for the death of 35 of the 44 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In the meantime, no charge can be filed for the death of the nine members of the 84th Seaborne due to the lack of witnesses.

“The respondents acted in conspiracy, waited for each other, encircled the SAF and shot them from all directions. Testimonial evidence shows the MILF, BIFF and PAGs knew they were engaging the PNP-SAF as early as 8 a.m.,” read the resolution.

The DOJ panel, chaired by Senior State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag, said the respondents knew that the SAF members were people in authority.

“The SAF men were in actual performance of their duty when assaulted and atrociously killed,” the resolution read.

The respondents were identified by a witness only known by the code name Marathon who was currently under the government’s Witness Protection Program and 11 others who positively identified the accused.

“We find the statements of the witnesses communicated a credible account on the occurrences they perceived on that indelible day of Jan. 25, 2015. Their categorical statements augur well for a finding of probable cause for direct assault with murder,” the DOJ resolution stated.

Based on witnesses’ accounts, the commandos of the 55th Special Action Company maintained a defensive stance, and gave the MILF, BIFF and vigilante groups the option to either continue the assault or retreat.

The 55th SAC served as the blocking force for the 84th Seaborne, the main unit that attacked and killed wanted Jemaah Islamiyah leader and bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan inside his hut in Pidsandawan, Mamasapano.

Only PO2 Christopher Lalan survived the day-long firefight with combined elements of the MILF, BIFF and PAGs.

The witnesses said the MILF, BIFF and vigilantes continued to fire shots at the SAF troopers despite knowing that they were police officers.

They said some of the respondents even bragged that the SAF men were no match to their fighting prowess. The troopers, Marathon said, already raised their hands in surrender but the armed men still shot them.

“Cruelty is present in this case as the witnesses testified having seen and heard the respondents shouting and laughing as they were shooting the commandos who were pinned down in the cornfield,” the resolution read.

Records from the PNP Crime Laboratory Office showed the commandos died from gunshot wounds in the neck, trunk, chest and abdomen.

Aside from the murder charges, the respondents were also charged with theft for allegedly stealing the firearms, communications equipment, night vision goggles, cellular phones and other personal belonging of the slain SAF commandos.

The DOJ remanded the theft charges to the National Bureau of Investigation for further investigation.