From the Philippine Star (Mar 19): Villagers return SAF 44 tactical gear
Photo shows SAF night vision goggles, monoculars and other equipment turned over by Mamasapano residents to the military. STAR/John Unson
Tactical equipment belonging to the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen killed by Muslim rebels in Mamasapano last Jan. 25 were collected from some villagers by troops from the Army’s 601st Brigade.
The collected equipment included five night vision goggles, three laser target pointers, two night fighting devices, two night vision monoculars, three handheld Harris radios, a laser designator, two gas masks, a Kevlar helmet, one set vest, a pair of combat boots, camouflage pants and two gun protective cases.
The tactical equipment and other items were turned over by Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the 601st Brigade, to the regional Philippine National Police (PNP) last Tuesday.
Local officials from Mamasapano, Shariff Saidona, Datu Saudi and Shariff Aguak towns said the villagers found the equipment at the site where the 44 SAF police commandos were killed during the clashes with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The policemen were part of the SAF team on a mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir and other targets.
The mission went haywire when they figured in separate firefights with the MILF and BIFF as they were about to withdraw from the area.
“The villagers that found those items in the scenes of the encounters agreed to return them after having been assured they would not be persecuted or harassed for keeping them for a while,” a municipal councilor said.
Feliciano said there were non-government organizations involved in various projects complementing the government-MILF peace overture, which helped collect the equipment of the slain SAF members.
“Credit would have to go to them too,” Feliciano said.
The MILF had earlier returned 16 of the firearms its fighters reportedly took from the slain policemen in barangays Pidsandawan, Tukanalipao and Inog-og.