The 55-page resolution was dated March 18 but released only recently, as the DoJ during the waning days of the Aquino administration declined to press charges right away out of concern for "certain sensitivities."

Among those charged in a 55-page resolution were five commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front: Commanders Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan, Refy Guiaman, Rakman, alias Anife and alias Haumves (also known as Haves).

The others were members of the MILF, as well as the splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and various private armed groups.

The DoJ prosecuting panel found probable cause to press charges, as it gave weight to the testimony of eyewitness "Marathon" and 11 others who positively identified the accused as the ones who fired upon the 55th Special Action Company (SAC) at a cornfield in Barangay Tukanalipao on Jan. 25, 2015.

"Their categorical statements augur well for a finding of probable cause for direct assault with murder," the resolution read. "Positive identification of a person being implicated in a crime, when categorical, resounding, consistent, and without any ill motive on the part of the eyewitnesses testifying on the matter, is given credence."

The witnesses testified that the 55th SAC maintained a defensive perimeter to give the armed men the option to continue the assault or retreat.

But the respondents continued to fire at the troopers despite knowing that they were police officers, and some supposedly even bragged that the SAF men were no match to their fighting prowess.

Only six of the 90 respondents bothered to file their counter-affidavits against the criminal complaint by the National Bureau of Investigation National Prosecution Service Special Investigation Team. Mustapha I. Tatak, Lakiman Klid Dawaling, Khalim D. Keda (aka Kalem Keda), Pendatun Utek Makakua (aka Otik Pendatun), Monnie B. Samal (aka Manny Samal), and Ronald B. Samal all denied being members of the armed groups.

The prosecutors did not give weight to these counter-affidavits, as "denial and alibi are self-serving."

"We are guided by the settled jurisprudence that in the absence of any improper motive to incriminate respondents, the positive identification made by prosecution witnesses must prevail over said respondent's denial and alibi," the resolution read.

Although probable cause was found for the complex crime of direct assault with murder, the DoJ panel dismissed the complaint for theft as circumstantial evidence failed to discount the possibility that individuals other than the respondents were responsible for looting the bodies of the SAF men.

Instead, the DoJ panel remanded the records back to the NBI-NPS SIT for a more thorough and exhaustive investigation.

Besides the five commanders, other respondents are listed as follows: Abdul Wahab, Maroks Nanding, Muslimin Gumanding Amilil (aka Moslimen Amilil), Repi Gugu (aka Riffi Gugu, aka Riffi), Ustads Manan Saluwang, Abdul Wahab Kamsa, Aladin Sakal, Alex Ampatuan, Aljun Baklayan, Benjie Ampatuan, Bitol Guiaman, Boden Hadji Mao (aka Sahabudin Kedza);

Borgo Kasan, Borgo Kasnan, Hadji Abdulsalam, Hadji Mohammad (aka Hadji Muhammad), Khalim Keda (aka Kalem Keda), Kommedo Galib, Monnie B. Samal (aka Manny Samal), Mustapha I. Tatak, Nasri Salik, Nasser Adam, Rixback Tongan, Roland Samal (aka Blackmoro Sapal);

Saiden Laguilom, Samantin Upam, Samsudin Alis, Samsudin Salik, Samsudin Upam, Saudi Upam (aka Sandi Upam), Sonny Pende, Toto Guiaman, Toto Sakal, Ustads Galib Rugioman, Waldo Hadji Abubakar, alias Campar;

alias Gapor, alias Labnan, Abu Halil, Abu Rusta, Badrudin Minidal Abdullah, Ben Tikaw, Datukan Sato Sabiwang, Guibar Amil Diya (aka Jabar), Hud Lamban Abdullah (aka Hud Amilil), Kagi Abdul Salam, Kamar Duma, Kambal Sabpa;

Lakiman Klid Dawaling, Makku Tikaw (aka Maku), Mahmod Pidtub Amilil, Marops Kudos Omar (aka Marup), Mer Amilil, Mohammad Ali Tambako, Morsid Awab, Muhamidin Abas Sinsuat, Musa Awab, Musib Kamot Hasim, Noel Sinsuat Ganoy, Pendatun Utek Makakua (aka Otik Pendatun, aka Otik Pindatun);

Rasul Mendo (aka Rasul Animbang, aka Bisaya), Salik Kikok (aka Salik Kikuk), Suweb Inday Balabagan, Tamano Esmail Sabpa, Teng Sabpa (aka Theng Sabpa), Ustads Madiyan, Abdul Waab Sabpa, Gapar Sinsuat, Joel Tatak, Resbak Salindatu, Ustads Gali, alias Diok;

alias Johari, alias Juhari, alias Kalirin, alias Kutap, alias Moter, alias Mawiya, alias Ngods, alias Pakki, alias Ramos, alias Saudi, alias Sumba, and alias Usah.

The resolution was prepared by Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Roseanne ElepaAo-Balauag, Rassendell Rex F. Gingoyon and Benito Oliver A. Sales III, and Assistant State Prosecutors Aldrin P. Evangelista and Alexander Q. Suarez. It was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony D. Fadullon and Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano.

State investigators were not able to file complaints as to the deaths of the nine members of the 84th Seaborne, the main assault unit that attacked the hut of wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, at Barangay Pidsandawan. The team also could not press charges for the deaths of 17 MILF members and five civilians.

The Jan. 25 incident led to doubts about the government's peace process with the MILF and eventually served to derail the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law's enactment n the 16th Congress. A replacement law still based on the peace agreement is set to be drafted under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Source: Business World Online