A full dress investigation is called for the much discussed cash reward given by the Armed Forces of the Phil. (AFP) on the capture of Abu Sayyaf members as promised by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte during his recent Bohol visit.
A capitol lawmaker who witnessed the actual military handover of the P1 million reward to the civilian informers for the Abu Sayyaf capture in Clarin has called for the probe on what he thinks to be “falsehoods” that tend to “poison” public mind.
In his privilege speech at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Friday, Board Member Ricky Masamayor also urged the Boholanos “not to be misled by those who wish lawlessness and disharmony” at “these trying times.”
He assailed the wide circulation, including on the social media, of a supposed “acknowledgment receipt” allegedly from one of the civilian tipsters for the amount of “P450,000” he “only” received as reward.
The P1 million bounty was shared among the qualified recipient civilian informers.
The handwritten receipt indicated that the money was “from the province,” although the money did come from the Office of the President.
The province also rewarded P100,000 which was shared, too, among the informers based on AFP reward system
A group of known rabid critics of the provincial administration has been falsely accusing that a cash bounty of even P4 million, not just P1 million, was downloaded to the province.
The lie was capitalized by the group to alleged further that a huge part of it was divided and pocketed by some government officials, including the military and police.
Are the spreaders of lies also “trying to taint the credibility of the government troops who have sacrificed their lives to protect the people?” Masamayor asked.
The board member was one of those who personally witnessed the handover of the P1 million from Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command (Centcom), to the civilian informants at the Governor’s Mansion in Tagbilaran City.
Other AFP officials,Philippine National Police (PNP) Prov’l. Dir. Felipe Natividad, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Clarin Mayor Allen Rey Piezas, Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II and Masamayor himself stood witness to the handover.
Only P1 million was given by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte as the reward for the capture of Abu Sayyaf member Joselito Melloria, who was killed in the clash with the government forces in Bacani, Clarin.
This has been repeatedly confirmed by Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, assistant chief of the Unified Command Staff for Civil Military Operations and spokesman of the AFP Centcom, and Brig. General Arnulfo Matanguihan, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade (IB).
Matanguihan also repeated the AFP explanation that there was no P3 million reward from Malacañang for the heads of the three other Abu Sayyaf bandits likewise killed in Clarin.
This is because there was no longer any civilian informant involved in the AFP-PNP operation resulting in the capture of the trio, who were killed in barangay Caboy almost eight hours later from Melloria’s fatal capture in barangay Bacani.
The fall of the three others happened following the intelligence engagement among the government forces and application of purely military intelligence squad, Matanguihan said.
The money was handcarried here by Lactao who also handed it over to the qualified recipients, all civilian informants, who shared the bounty.
CONFIDENTIAL BUT EXPOSED
The identities of the civilian tipsters whose information led to the capture of the terrorist are classified information and, therefore, confidential for the safety of the reward recipients.
But because of the circulation of the “photocopy” of the supposed acknowledgment receipt, also bearing the alleged signature of the informant, the latter’s identity has been only exposed publicly instead of being kept secret.
The receipt also indicated that the informer supposedly identified himself, his home address and job as a habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire) driver.
Law enforcement sources said it is most unlikely and unbelievable that a recipient of big money reward volunteers to be identified in a signed document since he only risks not just his life but of his family.
This is unless probably someone else of ill motive or in bad faith pressures him or takes advantage of his innocence and makes him fall into a trap like his execution of a document, unwitting that it may be maliciously used to ruin others, they said.
Accordingly, Masamayor continued in his privilege speech, the informant only received P450,000 and, out of fear for his life, he opted to let the public know that he has indeed that much now.
“What is the veracity of this information,” the provincial legislator asked.
Masamayor followed up: “How reliable is the document circulated in the media? Was it written by the informant himself or orchestrated by somebody else? What is the true intent of the people behind this?”
“Did the informant voluntarily sign the paper? Was there really a need to expose the amount rewarded?” he further asked.
The handwritten receipt likewise indicated that the money was given “in the presence of the governor, mayor and military officers.”
As published based on the photocopy which was also posted on the internet, the receipt showed the names and signatures of certain “barangay officials,” Victor Sanchez and Bernadette F. Junich, as “witnesses.”
The two, however, were never present in the actual handover and receipt of the P1 million reward to the habal-habal driver and other recipient civilian informers.
Bacani, Clarin residents identified Sanchez as their incumbent barangay captain, but who was reportedly not even in his place when the government forces acted on the civilian tip and captured Melloria dead.
PEACE COMMITTEE TASKED TO PROBE
Acting on Masamayor’s call, the SP tasked the Committee on Peace and Order to conduct the inquiry.
The “truth must be exposed to end the issue” which the First District board member said has “caused discord, deviated our focus and destroyed the morale of the people who continue to put their lives on the line for our countrymen’s sake.”
Masamayor enjoined all to “act in concert to eliminate the threat of terrorism and remain strong in our resolve to achieve peace and stability.”
Amidst the crisis when some still tried to “fabricate lies as truth,” the board member hoped that “all these falsehoods and treacherous acts to poison the mind of the public come to an end.”
Masamayor said the foiled terrorism mission was a “manifestation of our sense of community patriotism” and, “as declared by our brave governor, achieving lasting peace is the greatest reward.” (Ven rebo Arigo)