Video showing killing of commando in botched raid stokes outrage in Philippines

A GRUESOME six-minute video claiming to show a rebel finishing off a wounded police commando is stoking public outrage over a militant raid that has threatened to derail talks to forge peace in the restive southern island of Mindanao.

The man shown executed in the video was supposedly one of 44 police commandos who were killed on Jan 25 after their unit ran into hundreds of rebels during a raid to capture top Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Hir, better known as Marwan, and his Filipino apprentice, Basit Usman.

The video, now spreading on social media, shows a man wearing the uniform of the Special Action Force (SAF) lying face up on a field, fighting for his life.

Someone off camera then shot him twice in the chest with a handgun.

The shooter then ran through the field to collect the gear of another slain policeman.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that it had contacted the slain commando's brother, Mr James Saganoy.

Mr Saganoy told the paper that his relatives had informed him his brother, Joseph Saganoy, was the one in the video.

President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the video should be taken offline.

"Whoever uploaded that video is a heartless fellow. If you still have some humanity left in your soul, we ask you to take it down," he said.

Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr, spokesman of the Philippine National Police, said the video, though unverified, would "most definitely be used as input and a consideration" in the ongoing investigation into the Jan 25 incident.

Marwan was killed in the police raid on his hideout in the remote town of Mamasapano, according to DNA tests done by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Usman escaped.

The raid took a bad turn when men of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who were said to be protecting Marwan and Usman ambushed the retreating commandos.

In the bloodiest hours of that clash, one entire SAF company was nearly wiped out. Only one member managed to flee. Joseph Saganoy was part of that unit.

Comments posted on YouTube expressed disdain over the brutal manner in which the supposed policeman was killed, with anger largely directed at the MILF.

The MILF has signed a peace pact with the Philippine government, but that is now threatened as lawmakers launch investigations into the Mamasapano incident.

Congress has suspended hearings on a law that will allow the creation of an autonomous Muslim region, as provided under the Philippine-MILF peace accord.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos has said the proposed law is not yet dead, "but it is in a coma".

"Why were these animals even born? The Philippine government must conduct an all-out war against these terrorists," said Ms Jenny Cruz, in a comment she posted on YouTube.

Another comment, posted by Mr John Acday, read: "Are these the people we want to take peace with? No to BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law)."

"If the government pushes to make any kind of deal with these animals, we're screwed," said Mr Jan Anthony Perez.

In a more sobre comment, Mr Leo Palo said: "I hope the revolutionary MILF will really get into deep investigation if they are really sincere with the peace talks."

rdancel@sph.com.sg