Authorities assured that the alleged graves found in the fallen lair of Waning Abdusalam in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, won’t be desecrated despite a “need” to determine if these really contain bodies of slain bandits.

“If there is no need to dig those ‘graves’ di naman kailangan eh, our concern lang kasi is that there are reports na ‘di lang patay ang ibinaon nila (bandits) kundi pati ‘yung mga baril nila,” Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Earlier, authorities also admitted receiving intelligence information that Abdusalam and some of his men escaped the three-day police-military assault.

According to Cabangbang, allegations that guns were buried in the “freshly dug graves” were first proven true on Thursday, when troops dug up a caliber-.50 machine gun in Sitio Talaib, Brgy. Labatan.

“At first, they (troops) were thinking na ito’y patay kaya ‘di pinapakialaman, pero ano eh, let us make sure kung ito nga’y ‘bakal,'” he said. “Bakal,” literally steel, is often used to refer to guns.

Imams, or Muslim priests, “will be required” to lead the procedures, which will be carried out by members of the police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco), Cabangbang said.

“Andun na ‘yung Soco, tinitingnan lang nila kung talagang ano ba yun, tao o gamit ba ‘yung nakalibing… titingnan lang kung patay, kung makita na patay, hindi na dire-diretsuhin ang paghukay,” Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said for his part.

“Bilang respeto sa kaugalian ng mga Muslim, hindi na puwedeng pakialaman ‘yung patay,” he added. (John Roson)

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