Thursday, August 30, 2012

Texts: ABS-CBN 2000

March 2, 2000, ABS-CBN, 10:00 PM, Martial Law victims to go to Swiss SC,
April 5, 2000, ABS-CBN, 3:31 PM, Estrada belittles Silent Protest movement, Guingona,
April 19, 2000, ABS-CBN, 10:24 PM, Estrada favors news blackout on Abu Sayyaf,
April 20, 2000 , ABS-CBN, 8:31 PM, Religious war feared in Basilan after beheadings,
April 22, 2000, ABS-CBN, 8:41 PM, Military launches offensive vs. Abu Sayyaf,
April 26, 2000, ABS-CBN, 12:50 AM, Abu Sayyaf rebels in Isabela ordered killed,
April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN. 2:07 AM, Two MILF camps overrun, 26 rebels killed,
April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:40 AM, Ceasefire with Abu Sayyaf denied,
April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:14 AM, MILF negotiating with Abu Sayyaf for hostages' release,
April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 8:57 PM, Gov't open to death price on Abu Sayyaf,
April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, Marines seize MILF communications base in Lanao,
April 28, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:19 AM, Ulama council questions Abu Sayyaf principles,
April 28, 2000, ABS-CBN, MILF bombers target CDO,
April 28, 2000, ABS-CBN, NPA rebels raid Cebu town mayor's office,
May 1, 2000, ABS-CBN, 1:33 AM, Protecting their own, An exclusive feature of The Correspondents,
May 1, 2000, ABS-CBN, 3:48 PM, Sipadan hostages' health at risk,
May 3, 2000, ABS-CBN, 1:34 AM, Military won't budge on beheading threat,
May 4, 2000, ABS-CBN, 10:06 PM, Gov't shuns ceasefire with Muslim rebels,
May 5, 2000, ABS-CBN, Military solution a historical failure -- ARMM leaders,
May 5, 2000, ABS-CBN, Open letter of Mindanao senators to the RP gov't,
May 9, 2000, ABS-CBN, Abu Sayyaf rejects Misuari,
May 9, 2000, ABS-CBN, Abu Sayyaf's roots in Ramos administration -- Pimentel,
May 10, 2000, ABS-CBN, Profile: Abu Sayyaf,
May 27, 2001, ABS-CBN, Philippines Gunmen Seize 20 Hostages From Tourist Resort on Palawan Island,
June 18, 2000, ABS-CBN, Philippine Rebels Free 5 Children Held Hostage Raising Hopes that the 21 
August 1, 2000, ABS-CBN, 11:27 AM, Interview with Secretary Robert Aventajado,
December 2, 2000, ABS-CBN, 6:41 PM, Estrada reassures children of missing PR man,
December 17, 2000, ABS-CBN, 11:29 PM, 7 people massacred in Bacolod,


March 2, 2000, ABS-CBN, 10:00 PM, Martial Law victims to go to Swiss SC,

HAWAII (ABS-CBN) - Martial Law victims plan to petition the Supreme Court of Switzerland to regain control over the Marcoses' $650-million ill-gotten wealth previously transferred to an escrow account in the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

The victims would resort to this move if Judge Manuel Real of the Hawaii District Court grants their petition to terminate their $150-million compromise deal with the Marcoses, the victims' lead lawyer Robert Swift warned on Thursday.

Real is set to hand down his decision on the compromise agreement on March 2, 10 a.m., Hawaii time.

If he orders the termination of the agreement, he would thus compel the Marcoses to pay the victims a staggering $2.7 billion, instead of just $150 million.

The higher amount was awarded Martial Law human rights victims by the Hawaii court in 1994.

The planned move of human rights victims comes in the wake of the Sandiganbayan's rejection of the compromise deal, calling it "unconstitutional".

Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena of the anti-graft court insists the Marcoses should pay with their own money, instead of money they had stolen from the people under their dictatorship.

Delaying dues

Swift believes that forcing the Marcoses to compensate the victims without drawing from the escrow account would result in a further delay in indemnification due the victims.

He stressed that victims who are old and ailing should be indemnified immediately.

Swift plans to urge the Swiss Supreme Court to take back the $650-million escrow fund in PNB and allow the Marcoses to withdraw $150 million to indemnify the human rights victims.

The victims may be considered a creditor in the case, according to Swift.

Presidents vulnerable

Meanwhile, Senator Francisco Tatad urged the Philippine government to assert its sovereignty and reject US jurisdiction over human rights cases involving Filipinos. Otherwise, he contended, no Filipino president would be immune from being charged in US courts.

"These cases must be filed and tried in Philippine courts. Otherwise, no president is safe. Cory, Ramos, Erap, the next president and the next after him could find themselves facing charges in US courts," Tatad said.

He added this is evident due to a recent US State Department report accusing Philippine security forces of having committed human rights violations such as murder, torture, disappearances, and arbitrary detention in Mindanao that remain unresolved up to now.

Tatad stressed the government should learn from the Sandiganbayan's rejection of the US court-brokered compromise agreement between the Marcos estate and Filipino human rights claimants, and reject US court rulings on any case involving crimes committed by Filipinos against other Filipinos in the Philippines.

"In refusing to recognize the US court-brokered agreement, the Sandiganbayan decided to uphold Philippine sovereignty in a way the two post-Marcos regimes had failed to do. We should stand a little taller now. But this must be pursued to its logical conclusion."

"The government must now repudiate any foreign court ruling on any case arising from acts committed against any Filipino or group of Filipinos in the Philippines. These cases, after all, are wholly within the competence of our courts. They should be decided in our courts," said Tatad.

April 5, 2000, ABS-CBN, 3:31 PM, Estrada belittles Silent Protest movement, Guingona,

QUEZON CITY (ABS-CBN) - President Joseph Estrada belittled on Wednesday the capability of critics calling for his ouster, saying they lacked credibility and felt sorry for them.

Referring to the Silent Protest movement in a DZMM interview, Estrada said: "Iyan ang mga taong iyan na nakakaawa naman sila dahil walang sumasama sa kanila kundi sila sila rin".

[I pity them because nobody wants to join their group but themselves.]

The President said former National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) chief Jose Luis "Linggoy" Alcuaz, one of the proponents of the Silent Protest Movement, has questionable credentials.

"Alam naman yang rekord ni Alcuaz ay tinanggal ni (President) Aquino, at iyan namang si (Frank) Chavez ay may kaso pa sa panahon ni (President) Ramos ng graft and corruption sa Ombudsman," Estrada said.

[We know Alcuaz's record. He was removed from his post by former President Aquino. While former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez had a graft case before the Office of the Ombudsman during the term of former President Ramos.]

Last Monday, members of the anti-Estrada group launched a signature campaign to call for his ouster from office.

Alcuaz said the signature campaign will give the public the options on whether they would like Estrada to reform, resign, or be replaced.

Meanwhile, Estrada described the people campaigning for his ouster as selfish, saying they are doing this for their own personal gain at the expense of the people and the country.

Frustrated politician

As for Senator Teofisto Guingona Jr., President Estrada refused to comment on Guingona's accusations and call on him to resign.

Guingona wrote the President an open letter last Monday and followed it up with another one after the President's response to the first.

"Iyan po ay mga frustrated politician. Gusto lang pong malagay sa diyaryo dahil hanggang doon lang po ang aabutin niya," Estrada said of Guingona.

[He is a frustrated politician. He only wants to be featured in newspapers because that's how far he could get.]

The President added that Guingona had the ambition to run for vice president in the last electiions, but that Senator Jovito Salonga chose Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. as his running mate.

On Guingona's assessment

President Estrada maintained the country's economy has been doing well despite Guingona's insistence that the Chief Executive's so-called lackluster performance has thrown the economy in a slump.

"Wala pong katotohanan yan, at ang mga manininda sa palengke ang magpapatunay niyan. Katulad nga po sa bigas ay konti na lang ang iniimport na bigas dahil maganda ang ani natin. Kaya kahit tumaas ang langis natin ay mababa pa rin ang presyo ng ating mga bilihin," he explained.

[There is no truth to that, and market vendors can attest to that. We no longer import as much rice because we have good harvests. Despite oil price hikes, we still managed to maintain the prices of basic goods.]

But in another interview Wednesday, Guingona said the economy is not what the President protrays it to be.

"The low inflation is a sign of the lack of business activity. The low interest rate is to encourage people to borrow money because nobody is loaning from banks therefore there is no business expansion," Guingona noted.

He added the government was able to maintain prices of basic commodities due to the inflow of imported and smuggled goods.

Militant support

Crispin Beltran, head of the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) threw his support behind Guingona, urging the senator to continue the criticism of President Estrada.

Beltran also accused the President of name calling, adding it was the usual thing Mr. Estrada would do when faced with criticism.

"That's the only defense left to Estrada - to call his detractors and critics crazy. When backed against the wall, a man with Estrada's reasoning resorts to name calling."


April 19, 2000, ABS-CBN, 10:24 PM,  Estrada favors news blackout on Abu Sayyaf,

MALACAÑANG, (ABS-CBN) - President Joseph Estrada favors a news blackout on the Abu Sayyaf, claiming the Muslim terrorist group is manipulating the media's interest to gain notoriety abroad and sustain funding from international supporters.

"Pini-pickup ng foreign news para makakuha sila ng funding . . . para sumikat sila abroad . . . palagay ko sumasangayon ako na huwag nang bigyan ng media mileage . . . ang ating top priority ay mailigtas ang mga hostages," President Estrada said in a DZMM interview.

[This is being picked-up by foreign media as leverage for funding. I tend to agree that the group should not be given media mileage. Our top priority is to save the hostages.]

Although Estrada said he is willing to make concessions to end the hostage drama, he noted that the Abu Sayyaf's demands are becoming unreasonable by the day.

"Sapagkat hindi naman ang ating kapangyarihan makakapagpalabas sa mga terorista at imposible naman ang hinihingi nila. Talagang wala naman din tayong jurisdiction sa United States," he said.

[We have no power to release terrorists. That demand is impossible. We have no jurisdiction over the United States.]

The President said he would leave it up to the National Security Council to deal with the Muslim terrorists.

"Wala akong balak silang kausapain . . . si Secretary (Alexander) Aguirre ang in charge . . . pero kung kakailanganin at ikaliligtas ng hostages, ako ay nakahandang makipagusap para sa kaligtasan ng biktima," President Estrada said.

[I have no intention of negotiating with them. Secretary Aguirre is in charge. But if needed to ensure the safe release of the hostages, then I am willing to talk to them.]

Estrada stressed he the Abu Sayaff are not to be feared and should not be allowed to bully the government.

"Kailanman ay hindi tayo puwedeng takutin nitong Abu Sayaff na ito o ng sinumang terorista sapagkat iyan ay talagang sasagupain natin sila. Susugpuin ntin anuman ang manyari. Hindi tayo dapat na matakot sa mga taong iyan," he said.

April 20, 2000, ABS-CBN, 8:31 PM, Religious war feared in Basilan after beheadings,

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Basilan governor Wahab Akbar has expressed fears that a war may erupt between Muslims and Christians in the province as a consequence of the alleged beheading of two male Abu Sayyaf hostages.

Akbar said several vigilante groups composed of Christian civilians have been formed and that these groups would begin killing Muslims once they confirm that the beheading indeed took place.

The governor on Thursday, appealed for the vigilante groups not to put the law into their own hands.

Akbar, on the other hand, dared the Abu Sayyaf to show proof of the beheading.

"We challenge them to send the heads to us!" he said.

Akbar's followers, led by the Basilan provincial government spokesperson Jader Glang believes the Abu Sayyaf is bluffing.

"We still believe there was no execution unless we personally see the heads of the victims," Glang said.

Glang reiterated the Akbar's call for the terrorist group to free their hostages before the end of this month to keep the government from using force against them.

"No more negotiations. Hanggang sa katapusan ng buwan meron pa silang pagkakataon (They still have until the end of the month). (They should) say sorry," Glang said.

The Abu Sayyaf has claimed to have captured the execution of the hostages on video and later buried the bodies.

Final word

Meanwhile, Malacañang revealed that, despite receiving confirmation of the beheadings from reliable sources, the final word on the incident will still come from the Basilan Crisis Management Committee (BCMC).

In an interview in the "World Tonight", Press Secretary Ricardo "Dong" Puno said the government is still trying to get more information on the reported execution.

He added that government action based on unverified reports could trigger a chain reaction that would only worsen the situation.

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, for his part said the course of action will be in accordance with the BCMC's decision in response to the Abu Sayyaf's worsening tactics.

"We have been very careful in our movements here. We're considering the safety (of the captives) especially the children. We also know that they are engaging in a propaganda effort with all of these demands starting with Robin Padilla and the (sacks of rice). And now they're claiming there's something in the rice. They're also trying to attract international attention," Mercado told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Glass shards in rice

The Abu Sayyaf has accused the BCMC of deliberately putting glass shards from fluorescent bulbs inside the sacks of rice that were initially delivered to them.

The group said several of the hostages complained of severe stomach pains prompting them to open the sacks of rice. After a through inspection, the Abu Sayyaf allegedly discovered glass shards in the sacks.

BCMC spokesperson Cris Puno immediately denied the allegations.

"Well I don't really know about that. The BCMC purchased these sacks of rice in a commercial store. We did not inspect the sacks one by one. We don't have any reason or motive to give them rice that are not of good quality," Puno said.

The Abu Sayyaf is now asking the BCMC to convert the undelivered 85 sacks of rice to cash.

The Muslim extremist group also said all the government has to do is issue a "request" to the US government for the release of three international terrorists jailed in the United States to stop the beheadings.

Sabaya said they will "understand" if the Philippine government cannot directly secure the terrorists' release but all it has to do is try.

"If that happens, we will stop the execution and proceed with negotiations," Sabaya said.

Mercado however said "the United States has rejected even before (the government) could mention this kind of an arrangement."

Midjal learns of beheading

Meanwhile, the Christian vigilante group holding the family of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani has threatened to behead its captives after learning of the hostages' execution.

The group's leader Abdul Midjal, has informed the provincial government of Basilan that if the Abu Sayyaf hostages were indeed killed, they too, will execute two of Janjalani's relatives.

Midjal and his group kidnapped Janjalani's kin in retaliation to the Abu Sayyaf's kidnapping of more than 40 students and teachers in Basilan last month.

There would be 27 remaining hostages, if the beheading of two did take place.

Janjalani's wife and daughter were earlier freed in the hopes that this would expedite the release of all the Abu Sayyaf's captives.

Instead, the Muslim extremist group freed only two child captives.

April 22, 2000, ABS-CBN, 8:41 PM, Military launches offensive vs. Abu Sayyaf,

BASILAN, (ABS-CBN) - The Philippine Military launched early dawn on Saturday a rescue operation on the remaining hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in its lair in Sumisip town, this province. This came following the extremists claim that they beheaded two of the 29 hostages they abducted a month ago.

"A rescue operation is going on," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Angelo Reyes told the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).

Reyes said the decision to attack the Abu Sayyaf rebel camp was made by the provincial Crisis Management Committee (CMC), which has been spearheading the hostage negotiations.

In an emergency meeting on Thursday, a day after the Abu Sayyaf allegedly beheaded two of its male hostages, CMC spokesperson Cris Puno said the resort to military action was decided upon. Puno told the ANC, "all peaceful means have been exhausted" for the release of the hostages.

"The ongoing military operation is a result of a critical and unanimous decision duly approved to a resolution by the joint chairmanship and members of the Basilan Crisis Management Committee," Puno said.

With the military offensive, the Abu Sayyaf is threatening their remaining 25 male hostages.

"If it continues the operation... it's up to them... but we will start beheading all five of our male hostages tomorrow (Sunday) if the military will not stop," ASG spokesperson Abu Sabaya warned.

Earlier, the Basilan provincial government and the military belied the beheading claim of the ASG noting the group failed to show proof of their act.

But now, the CMC said they are taking the word of the Abu Sayyaf.

"We have to presume that it (beheading of male hostages) pushed through. We have to take the pronouncement of the Abu Sayyaf," said Puno.

The Abu Sayyaf has asserted they have nothing to show as evidence of the beheading since they already buried the bodies and heads of the victims after the execution.

Meanwhile, a source has identified the two beheaded captives as Dante Uban and Ruben Democrito.

Prior to this, the group met with movie actor Robin Padilla, whom the group had requested to mediate in hostage negotiations. The Abu Sayyaf is seeking the intervention of President Estrada to free three Arab terrorists presently being tried in the United States.

The group has demanded the release of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York; Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, accused of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks; and Abu Haider, who is presently detained in California.

The demands were rejected by President Estrada and the US embassy a few days ago.

Adding to its demands, the Abu Sayyaf wants a meeting with the ambassador of Italy, which Sabaya said is responsible for the spread of Catholicism in the Philippines.

In addition, it said the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) must order female Muslim teachers and students to wear the traditional Muslim costume that completely covers the body.

The Muslim terrorists likewise wants the removal of Christian crosses in public areas in some Mindanao provinces and a ban on foreign fishing vessels in waters off Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Abu Sayyaf in control?

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN Zamboanga said there are an undetermined number of injured personnel from both sides as a result of Saturday's hostilities.

While the ASG has refused to disclose their number of wounded, the government soldiers wounded in the encounter will be airlifted to the AFP Southern Command in Zamboanga City.

Sabaya disclosed told the ANC that they suffered no casualties while the military, had nine.

Also, the ASG's hostages who had been held since March 20 this year are still safe in their clutches, Sabaya added.

Probed further on the military action, Reyes meanwhile refused to issue more details saying it would only jeopardize the operation.

Initial reports said military troops began pounding the ASG camp with howitzer cannons and mortars at around 1 am.

Residents of Maluso town said they could hear explosions from nearby Sumisip and at least four helicopter gunships were seen over the area.

One of the choppers, Sabaya claimed, crash-landed in the municipality of Tumaguong. The claim was later belied by Reyes.

Vigilantes prepare

Meanwhile, a group of vigilantes are also preparing for an assault against the Abu Sayyaf.

Hader Glang, spokesman for Basilan governor Wahab Akbar, said their men have set up a nearby camp in preparation for the attack.

Akbar has set a deadline of April 30 for the rebels to release their hostages, otherwise, a full-scale offensive from his army will be undertaken.

The ASG originally seized more than 50 people from two schools in Basilan for use as human shields after attacking an army outpost. Some of the hostages have since been freed.

In retaliation for the abduction, Akbar's group seized 11 relatives of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffi Janjalani. They are still holding nine relatives after freeing Janjalani's pregnant wife and his nine-year-old daughter.

Muslim fanatics

The Abu Sayyaf is the smaller but more radical of two Muslim groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in Southern Philippines. It has been blamed for numerous attacks on Christians, including the abduction of foreign missionaries.

The US State Department has included the Abu Sayyaf in a list of 28 foreign groups that threaten Americans at home or abroad.

(With a report from the Associated Press)

April 26, 2000, ABS-CBN, 12:50 AM, Abu Sayyaf rebels in Isabela ordered killed,

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Basilan governor Wahab Akbar issued on Tuesday a shoot-to-kill order on any Abu Sayaf rebel spotted in the provincial capital of Isabela, following the terrorist group's threat to set the town ablaze.

The Abu Sayyaf made the threat, as the military remained focused on its rescue operations for 27 remaining hostages of the terrorist group.

Hundreds of paramilitary men have been deployed in an effort to beef up security measures in Isabela.

Despite the Abu Sayyaf warning, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Angelo Reyes said military offensives will continue until all hostages are released.

Reyes expects the hostage crisis to end within a week.

Armed Forces Southern Command (Southcom) chief Lt. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva disclosed government troops are set to advance to the main rebel stronghold in the Sumisip hinterlands.

Already, the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been tapped to assist in the hostage rescue operations.

PNP spokesperson Nicanor Bartolome said the SAF will serve as a blocking force against Abu Sayyaf members who attempt to escape.

Above the Abu Sayyaf lair of Camp Abdujarak, military troops used helicopter gunships in a slow assault Tuesday.

The hostages, including a priest, teachers, and students have been kept in the past five weeks in the western Mindanao rebel hideout.

Military helicopters pounded three outlying Abu Sayyaf camps with rockets, according to Villanueva.

"Malakas ang first line of defense (ng military). Pero ang concern namin ay ang safety ng hostages kaya limited ang gamit namin ng higher-caliber guns," Villanueva said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel.

[The military has a strong first line of defense against the Abu Sayyaf. But we cannot use guns of higher caliber because our main concern is the safety of the hostages.]

Rebels reportedly fleeing their hideouts were also pursued by ground troops, Villanueva added.

On Monday, the military reported it has neutralized the communications tower of the Muslim rebel group and rendered its power generators useless once these run out of fuel.

The military assault which began Saturday has been slowed down by forest terrain, poor weather, and land mines which have called for the use of metal detectors, Villanueva said.

Authorities reported that at least 25 rebels and four soldiers have been killed.

Mass evacuation

Some 150 residents of various municipalities in Basilan have fled to safer grounds, expecting tension to escalate.

Reports from the social welfare department's provincial office revealed evacuees came from barangays Tubigan, Pali, Kamanggaan, Abong-Abong, and Canas in the municipalities of Maluso, Tumahubong in Sumisip, Yakal in Isabela, and Matarling in Lantawan.

Social welfare officer Edward Baird said residents feared getting caught in the crossfire between Abu Sayyaf terrorists and government soldiers.

Baird added the exact number of evacuees still has to be determined, as an official report from village chiefs of affected municipalities is still pending.

Abu Sayyaf behind Sulu blasts

In Sulu, authorities believe the Abu Sayyaf, also known as the Al Harakatul Islamiya, is behind two grenade blasts in Jolo last Sunday.

The bomb blasts were reportedly an attempt to divert the military from its operations in Basilan. Thirteen soldiers were wounded in the explosions.

In the first explosion, an unidentified man lobbed a grenade in front of a military outpost, leaving six troopers injured.

In the second, seven soldiers were hurt after another grenade went off near the Tong Jin Elementary School, minutes after the first blast.

April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN. 2:07 AM, Two MILF camps overrun, 26 rebels killed,

ILIGAN CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Army troops overran two rebel camps in Lanao del Norte on Wednesday, resulting in the death of 26 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels.

At least five soldiers were confirmed wounded, since government forces renewed hostilities against the Muslim secessionists a day earlier.

The latest military conquest developed, as troops conduct clearing operations in surrounding areas, inching closer to its target - the MILF's communications center in Lanao del Norte.

An Army major hoisted the Philippine flag on a wooden pole and gave it a salute after troops captured a newly established MILF camp in Pacalundo.

Army Col. Samuel Bagasin said the troops launched air and ground attacks on the Pacalundo camp established by the guerrillas only last month.

More than 500 guerrillas in the camp, fortified with bunkers and fox holes, retreated toward nearby Lanao del Sur province during the fighting.

Before the camp fell, troops shelled it with 105mm Howitzer cannons. The bombardment was heard as far as 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from Iligan City, witnesses said.

Earlier around 8 a.m., another MILF satellite camp in Barangay Bubong, Cabasagan in Pantaoragat town was seized and destroyed by composite forces of the Marines, the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, and the local police of Pantaoragat.
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April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:40 AM, Ceasefire with Abu Sayyaf denied,

BASILAN, (ABS-CBN) - Calls for a ceasefire by Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Tuesday came too late, as the Basilan Crisis Management Committee (BCMC) had already decided to continue armed offensives against them.

The BCMC's Public Information Office reportedly received the call for a ceasefire and negotiations from Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Sabaya via an Icom two-way radio.

The request for a ceasefire was also reiterated by captive priest Fr. Ruel Gallardo.

However, BCMC chairman and Basilan vice governor Bonnie Abdul Asis Balamo said the people have had enough of the Abu Sayyaf's demands.

"The people have spoken. Galit na ang mga tao at may blessing 'yan sa mga pamilya ng mga hostages," Balamo said.

[...The people are enraged and we have the blessing of the hostages' families.]

On their fifth day, military air strikes continue to pound the rebels' lair in Puno Mahajib, Sumisip, as Abu Sayyaf snipers retaliate against government foot soldiers.

Both Basilan governor Wahab Akbar and Task Force commander Brig. Gen. Gliserio Sua predict that the Abu Sayyaf camp will be taken over in 10 days.

There have been no official reports on the condition of the hostages despite the Abu Sayyaf's earlier claim that two captives, a teacher and a student, were hit by shrapnel during one of the military offensives.

Muslim community reacts

Muslim leaders in Zamboanga have condemned the Abu Sayyaf hostage-taking and expressed indignation over the group's actions.

"Ang ibig sabihin ng Islam 'peace', e masdan mo ang nangyayari. Kaya wala talaga sa aming ganyan. Consensus 'yan," said Uztadz Unggang, a member of the Federation of Muslim Professionals and Muslim Leaders.

[Islam means "peace" but look at what's happening. It's a consensus that we do not engage in activities like that.]

"Makaka-apekto talaga psychologically, educationally, economically. Lalo na sa pananampalataya, baka ang tingin ng ibang pananampalataya ay ganyan pala ang Islam," he added.

[Their actions have psychological, educational, and economic effects. What's more, members of other religions might think that Islam (condones violence).]

The Maranao Businessmen and Traders Association, however, chose to remain neutral on the Abu Sayyaf's actions.

"Kung anong gusto nila, nasa sa kanila 'yun," said Hadji Saisal, a member of the association. "Iba-iba ang paniniwala ng mga tao."

[It's up to them if they want things that way. People have different beliefs.]

The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped more than 40 students and teachers from two schools in Basilan last March 20. The number has been reduced, as some hostages were released in exchange for food and medicine.

However, the terrorist group claims to have beheaded two male captives, after the government failed to meet the demand for the delivery of 85 sacks of rice and the release of three international terrorists jailed in the United States.

The hostage drama included the participation of action star Robin Padilla who had flown to Basilan at the behest of the Abu Sayyaf to negotiate for the release of all the captives.

Only two child hostages were released as "gifts" to him.

(With a report from Israel Cando and Erwin Tulfo)

April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:14 AM, MILF negotiating with Abu Sayyaf for hostages' release,

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has allegedly formed an independent committee that is secretly negotiating with Abu Sayyaf terrorists for the release of the latter's remaining 27 hostages in Basilan.

In an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel, MILF spokesperson Mohagher Iqbal said their group has been negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf long before negotiations with the government started.

Iqbal claims they are only after the welfare of the hostages who, he said, are also their brothers and sisters.

MILF officials blamed the government for killing 23 Abu Sayyaf supporters last Saturday, through a Christian vigilante group called the Sagrado Corazon Señor.

The "Sagrados", an offshoot of the dreaded Ilaga Group during the Marcos era, reportedly killed the 23 Abu Sayyaf sympathizers in a remote town of Isabela, the Basilan capital.

The MILF spokesman condemned the move saying the government is resorting to terrorism. Iqbal also accused the Basilan government of coddling vigilantes.

Last week, the cult said it would launch an independent operation to rescue the 27 civilians who have been held hostage in Camp Abdujarak since March 20.

The Sagrado cult, which firmly believes in using amulets for protection, operates in Zamboanga and was organized in the 1970s at the height of the Muslim separatist rebellion in Mindanao.

Aside from the Sagrados, Basilan governor Wahab Akbar and his followers have also joined in the fray.

On Tuesday, Akbar issued a shoot-to-kill order on any member of the Abu Sayyaf spotted in Isabela, following the group's threat to set the town ablaze.

Another vigilante group, led by Commander Abdul Midjal, has also threatened to kill the nine captive family members of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffi Janjalani.

Midjal's group kidnapped Janjalani's kin in retaliation against the Abu Sayyaf, of which Midjal is a former member.


In a related development, Islamic religious leader Ustadz Jaron lambasted the Abu Sayyaf for wrongfully applying the teachings of the Koran, the Holy Book of Islam.

"Tama ang interpretation nila but the application ay mali. Mayroong tinatawag na Koranic provision concerning retaliation, pero mali talaga ang paraan nila (Abu Sayyaf)," Jaron said in an interview on DZMM.

[The interpretation of the Abu Sayyaf on the Koran's teachings is correct, but they are not applying these in the correct manner. We have a Koranic provision concerning retaliation but their method is wrong.]

Jaron explained the Koran teaches that a person can only retaliate in self-defense or through the order of the so-called Islamic court.

"Sa Abu Sayyaf case wala sa dalawang binabanggit. Wala sa category dahil dinukot nila ay mga priests. Kapag pari, hindi lalabanan sa pamamagitan ng baril kundi sa pamamagitan din ng isang pari. Kung nagawa nilang pumatay hindi ito batay sa Koran kundi sa sarili nilang pamamaraan," he said.

[The Abu Sayyaf did not use either means because they kidnapped priests. A priest can only be fought by another priest, not by the gun. If they (Abu Sayyaf) were able to kill, it was not based on the Holy Koran but through their own methods.]

[More, but Page 3 a dead link,  3 Next»]

April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 8:57 PM, Gov't open to death price on Abu Sayyaf,

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - The government needs all the help it can get to subdue hostage-taking Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Mindanao and is open to putting a price on each their heads.

Defense secretary Orlando Mercado on Thursday expressed openness to Basilan governor Wahab Akbar's suggestion that a bounty of P30,000 be awarded for each Abu Sayyaf rebel captured or killed.

Akbar also proposed that a higher amount be awarded for any ranking Abu Sayyaf official killed, but stopped short of specifying the amount.

"We have no intention of micro-managing (Basilan)," Mercado said, but added: "If he feels (the bounty) is going to help then that is his responsibility."

However, Basilan vice governor and Crisis Management Committee (CMC) chairman Abdul Aziz Balamo objected to Akbar's proposal.

The CMC does not have the money to fund it, Balamo said.

Besides suggesting the bounty, Akbar also exhorted local residents not to hesitate in conducting an armed struggle against Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

"Engage the local residents to arm themselves and fight the Abu Sayyaf, or the Abu Sayyaf will fight them, " Akbar said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Ignoring the possibility that his proposal might trigger human rights violations, particularly by vigilantes, Akbar declared he is bent on stopping the terrorist group from harming the public.

Civilian furor

Balamo admitted that Basilan's civilians have expressed their desire to assist the military and the police in search and rescue operations for the Abu Sayyaf's 27 remaining hostages, 22 of whom are children.

The hostages were abducted more than a month earlier and are reportedly being held in a remote lair in the Sumisip hinterlands.

The Abu Sayyaf claims to have beheaded two of its male hostages last April 20, but failed to show proof of the execution.

Balamo said that civilian sentiment in the province now resembles that of the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.

Early Tuesday morning, a group of armed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members from Lantawan municipality arrived at the Basilan provincial capitol in Isabela to ask clearance for a planned offensive on the Abu Sayyaf.

Once the largest Muslim secessionist group in the Philippines, the MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

MNLF founder Nur Misuari eventually became the governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Military offensives

While Basileños are taking matters into their own hands, government offensives on the Abu Sayyaf's lair in Puno Mahajid, Sumisip town have not resulted in a military takeover of the area.

Rescue operations for the Abu Sayyaf hostages entered their sixth day Thursday.

Brigadier general Glicerio Sua declared that rescue operations for the hostages would be completed before Monday next week.

"Ongoing ang (rescue) operations. Unti-unti lalapitan na namin ang main camp (Camp Abdurajak)," said Sua, who commands the Army's 1st Infantry Division.

[Rescue operations are ongoing. We are gradually approaching the main camp.]

After overrunning a number of the Abu Sayyaf's outposts, the military is reportedly just a few kilometers away from Camp Abdurajak.

Two MG-520 helicopters were deployed early Thursday morning to give aerial support to ground troops at the foot of Puno Mahadji.


Six soldiers from the 5th Infantry Battalion operating in Barangay Upper Mahayhay were reportedly wounded, according to reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo, as of 5 p.m., Thursday.

Since the military launched offensives on Black Saturday, three soldiers have been killed and 11 wounded.

Military intelligence says 30 Abu Sayyaf rebels have been killed. Only two bodies, however, have so far been recovered by the military.

Several factors are hampering the military's rescue efforts, however, according to Sua.

Dense vegetation is hampering a full-scale military attack, as rebels use the thick woods they are familiar with to snipe at advancing troops.

News blackout

In the Senate, a member of the National Defense Council urged military and defense officials to adopt a "news blackout" to ensure the safety of the hostages and the success of military operations.

In a press statement , Senator Renato Cayetano noted the incessant disclosure of military tactics by the media, saying this may affect the success of rescue operations.

"It has been proven that the success of hostage rescue operations depends largely on secrecy and surprise, things which some defense and military officials have completely ignored," Cayetano said without mentioning whom he was referring to.

"They have been publicly disclosing and discussing the wherewithal of how they plan to rescue the hostages in Basilan," Cayetano added.

CMC now open to ceasefire

In related news, the CMC remains open to the possibility of negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf, after it denied the call for a ceasefire by the terrorist group.

Balamo explained the CMC's decision will depend on a report by government emissary Ustadz Hussin Manatad.

Manatad is reportedly holding talks with son-in-law and Abu Sayyaf chief Khaddafy Janjalani.

Janjalani's kin are being held by a vigilante group which retaliated against the Abu Sayyaf abduction.


April 27, 2000, ABS-CBN, 9:51 PM, Marines seize MILF communications base in Lanao

ILIGAN CITY, (ABS-CBN)- Government forces scored a victory Thursday, as the Philippine Marines seized a major communications base of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Apo Hill, Balo-i in Lanao del Norte.

Apo Hill is the headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the MILF's 303rd Brigade Field Division, which has more than 10 bomb shelters.

The captured communications base links the MILF forces in Lanao to their headquarters in southern Maguindanao province, said the Army's 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Johnny Macanas.

The Marines led by Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio overran the MILF base at about 5 a.m., on the third day of full-scale offensives that have already killed at least 36 Muslim secessionist guerrillas.

Clearing operations against the snipers ended at 6:45 a.m., Teodosio said.

There were no reported casualties in the Apo Hill attack, as the MILF rebels fled the camp, leaving behind their belongings and communications antenna.

Since hostilities began on March 16 in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, more than 300 Muslim rebels have perished.

The military said it suffered fewer fatalities, but has yet to release a formal report. [More: Dead 2 Next »]

April 28, 2000, ABS-CBN, 02:19 AM, Ulama council questions Abu Sayyaf principles,

DAVAO CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Islamic leaders are confused over the principles of Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Basilan who continue to threaten the lives of 27 hostages their demands are not met.

"If the Abu Sayyaf continue (with its terrorist ways), let the government attack them," Dr. Mahid Mutilan of the Ulama council said.

The Ulama's statement followed the Abu Sayyaf's alleged beheading last week of two male hostages.

Islamic religious leader Ustadz Jaron also lambasted the Abu Sayyaf for abusing the teachings of the Koran, the Holy Book of Islam.

Jaron said the Koran teaches that a person can only retaliate in self-defense or through the order of the so-called Islamic court.

Only recently, the Abu Sayyaf has also been held responsible for the abduction of several foreigners in the island resort of Sipadan in Sabah, Malaysia.

Mutilan said the government should not tolerate the atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf, since they also pose a threat to other Muslims in Mindanao.

At least three soldiers have been killed and 11 wounded in the ongoing military rescue operations for the Basilan hostages which started on Black Saturday.

Thirty Abu Sayyaf rebels have reportedly been killed in the skirmishes, even as the military has failed to gain control of the area.

The Basilan hostages' release hinges on the Abu Sayyaf's demand that the United States set free Arab terrorists Ramzi Yousef, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, and Abu Haider.

Yousef is the mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, while Abdel-Rahman is accused of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks. Haider is presently detained in California.

The Abu Sayyaf is also demanding the release of two of its comrades jailed in Isabela, the capital of Basilan.

It likewise called for the removal of Christian crosses in public areas in some Mindanao provinces, and a ban on foreign fishing vessels in waters off Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Adding to its international-level demands, the Abu Sayyaf wants a meeting with the ambassador of Italy.

Also, it urged the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) to order female Muslim teachers and students to wear the traditional Muslim costume that completely covers the body.

The Philippine government has scoffed at the Abu Sayyaf's pressure tactics.

President Estrada has declared his administration would not in any way compromise with Muslim terrorists.

April 28, 2000, ABS-CBN, MILF bombers target CDO,

CAGAYAN DE ORO, (ABS-CBN) - Security in Cagayan de Oro has been tightened amid warnings of imminent bomb attacks by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels.

Confidential sources disclosed that the rebel operations would be carried out by a highly trained MILF bomb squad in oil depots, government offices, and some private establishments.

The Muslim secessionist rebels are also reportedly launching offensives against military detachments in Western and Central Mindanao.

Kidnap-for-ransom operations will supposedly also be increased in the urban centers of Zamboanga, Davao, General Santos, Cotabato, and Iligan.

The MILF, the larger of two groups fighting for a separate Islamic state in Mindanao, have continually belied reports of their involvement in any bombing assaults.

The Muslim secessionists claim these were the handiwork of military operatives aiming to destabilize peace and order in Mindanao

Earlier this month, MILF vice chair for military affairs Al Haj Murad denied the involvement of fellow Muslim secessionist rebels in the bombing of a movie house and a school principal's residence in Zamboanga City and in Isabela, Basilan. [More: but Dead Link for page 2 Next »]


April 28, 2000, ABS-CBN, NPA rebels raid Cebu town mayor's office,

EBU, (ABS-CBN) - Twenty-five heavily armed New People's Army (NPA) rebels cut off communication lines at a town mayor's office Thursday after failing to locate their target, Sagado mayor Thadeo Durano.
Durano, a Marcos loyalist and tagged as a human rights violator by the communist rebel group, was not in his office when the guerrillas entered the Sagada municipal hall to liquidate him, police said.

The rebels, said to be members of the NPA's Vicente Padayao Command, earlier ransacked a police precinct before they proceeded to the town hall.

Witnesses said the rebels arrived at about 8 a.m., Thursday, clad in military fatigues and aboard a local passenger jeepney.

They introduced themselves as members of the military's Visayas Command and instructed Ricardo Enriquez, driver of the rebel's vehicle, to wait for them outside after paying him P100.

Police radio operator Jumamil Presillas said they never suspected that the men in fatigue were NPA rebels.

Losing no time, the rebels disarmed the police officers and detained them inside the precinct's prison cell.

Afterwards, the rebels ransacked the station and seized seven armalite rifles and a 19mm Beretta pistol before going to the mayor's office.

About five minutes after cutting the communication lines of the mayor's office, the rebels then boarded the same jeepney and fled.

Senior police officer 2 (SPO2) Ulysses Armecin and SPO1 Gualberto Arnado then pursued the rebels and were able to shoot one of them.

The wounded rebel fell from the jeepney but was immediately picked up by his comrades, who then managed to elude lawmen.

(With a report from Ina Reformina)

May 1, 2000, ABS-CBN, 1:33 AM, Protecting their own, An exclusive feature of The Correspondents,
Mondays, 11:30 p.m. ABS-CBN Channel 2, Writer: Art Bonjoc Jr.,

DAVAO, (ABS-CBN) - It's April - the season of income tax payments, during which corruption by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials peaks.

During this time, citizens encounter various hitches in their dealings with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Mrs. Aurora Legorio is one lucky individual who escaped the predatory tactics of corrupt taxmen.

Last year, Mrs. Legorio contacted the ABS-CBN office in Davao to expose the anomalous practices of a BIR-Davao branch officer.

With the help of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) in Southern Mindanao, an entrapment operation was set last November 6, 1999 at the Legorio residence.

Hours before the 9 a.m. schedule, the news team stationed hidden cameras and recorders to be used as evidence against the revenue officer.

Seven hours after the appointed time, officer Swiza Español arrives at the Legorio residence to do business.

According to Español, the Legorios had to pay P1.3 million in business taxes.

She then offered to lower that amount in exchange for P80,000.

After much bargaining, Español finally agreed to halve her quoted amount.

In her own home, Mrs. Legorio hands over to Español a check for P35,000 and an envelope with P5,000 in cash.

Taking her leave, Español immediately leaves the house and is surrounded by PAOCTF agents who invite her to the station for questioning.

Realizing her position, she starts weeping when policemen escort her to a waiting van.

In desperation and panic, she tried to throw away the envelope that was given to her but was caught by one of the PAOCTF agents.

But at the station, Español takes a stand that she had not done anything wrong.

"Wala akong ginawang masama. Hindi ako binayaran," she says vehemently.

[I did not do anything wrong. I didn't get paid.]

The BIR in Davao was shaken to the core when the news made headlines.

Even the news team received threats after the story was aired on television.

Despite the evidence against her, Español was not treated with the severity given to the common criminal.

She was suspended from work and reassigned to the finance division of the BIR office in Tagum city.

In other words, she was not removed from the office that had given her the opportunity to steal.

Recently, more information on Español's strange case began to surface.

According to an investigative report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, an order for Español's suspension has yet to be implemented by the BIR-Davao branch, despite its having been issued by the Manila head office last Jan. 26.

In effect, the extorting Español was still receiving the same salary and benefits due an honest revenue officer.

In recent surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations, it was learned that the BIR ranks as one of the top three most corrupt institutions in the country.

Clearly, extortion has become a tacitly approved practice in the BIR, according to Socrates Aguinaldo, former BIR examiner and a current crusader against government corruption.

Aguinaldo stresses the case of Español is not an isolated one.

More often than not, BIR employees found guilty of extortion are often reassigned to other branches to escape the long arm of the law.

Even the BIR officials themselves admit that the culture of corruption is prevalent in the bureau.

According to a study conducted by Transparency International, only 25% of BIR collections actually go to the government.

Twenty-five percent is used for administrative expenses. But the rest ends up in the pockets of corrupt revenue officers and other bureau officials.

Some still believe all is not lost at the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Despite the temptation of easy money, some officials refuse to give up their principles for the proverbial 30 silver coins.

Says one crusader against corruption, "It has to come from the person himself. Anyone can blame the system for all the corruption, but if each one makes a personal commitment not to be involved, then the culture of corruption will no longer be the norm. It will be the exception."

May 1, 2000, ABS-CBN, 3:48 PM, Sipadan hostages' health at risk,

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - The health of 21 hostages of a Muslim extremist group in the southern province of Sulu faces greater risk as each day passes.

A free-lance journalist who saw them last Saturday said the hostages are being held in a small bamboo hut in the hills of Talipao on Jolo island, Sulu.

Jolo is about one hour by boat from the Sipadan Island resort in Sabah, Malaysia, from where they were taken.

Already a South African woman has reportedly collapsed while several others are suffering from fever.

In an interview with a local radio station, Abu Sayyaf officer Abu Issa said the hostages need food and clean water.

"A woman hostage from Africa just collapsed this morning, maybe she's tired and hungry,'' Issa said in an interview with radio station DXRZ.

One woman from South Africa, Monique Strydom, was kidnapped with her husband, Callie.

Issa said other hostages are suffering fever and flu and are complaining of their diet of rice and dried fish.

Also reported ill was a Finnish national who is said to be suffering from bleeding ulcers.

The hostages include tourists from Germany, France, South Africa, Finland, and Lebanon, and resort workers from the Philippines and Malaysia.

continued, page 2 of 4

The Sulu provincial office dispatched a municipal doctor to Talipao on Monday, to distribute medical supplies and check on the health and living conditions of the hostages.

Dr. Melba Amin will visit barangays Sawak and Bandang to check on two separated groups of hostages.

"If any of the hostages are seriously ill, I will demand that the Abu Sayyaf bring them down to a hospital,'' she said.

Food, clothing, and medicines have been donated by private groups for the hostages, officials said.

"Water, food, clothing, and medicines have been sent to them and would be coursed through the negotiators headed by ARMM governor Nur Misuari," said Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan.

Tan was among Mindanao officials summoned by President Estrada for an emergency meeting in Malacañang.

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said the military as well as the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) which he concurrently heads will be on standby for the delivery of relief goods.

"We'll turn (these) over to the negotiators so that it would reach the hostages fast," Mercado told reporters.

Hostages' complaints
French hostage Stephan Loisy said they only came to Sipadan to dive. He complained that they have had nothing to eat in the past two days and that conditions are getting worse.

Another French national Sonya Wending said that they have no choice but "to stay alive". "There is no water, I want to go home as soon as possible, it's a struggle for us."

continued, page 3 of 4

Renate Juta of Germany could only cry. "I miss my son, I miss my son," Juta said in tears.

Finnish hostage victim Mirco Jahanen Risto said: "We all have one wish and that is to contact our homes and relatives".

Diplomatic intercession

Diplomatic officials from the French, German and Finnish embassies delivered 11 boxes of medicine, clothes, and food on Monday to a Muslim official serving as an emissary to the kidnappers.

Malaysia has also prepared a shipment of food and medicine for the captives, but it was unclear whether the rebels would allow the goods to be delivered.

The consuls also met for more than an hour with Misuari and said they would not negotiate directly with the kidnappers who demanded so.

"God willing, we can resolve the situation soon as the parties involved have spoken about having negotiations,'' Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama.

"We also do not want the release of the hostages to be done the military way,'' he added.

In a videotaped interview, one of the kidnappers complained of bad economic conditions and a lack of Muslim self-determination.

The Abu Sayyaf is the smaller of two groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in the impoverished southern Philippines, the homeland of the country's Islamic minority.

The government formed on Monday a special task force to ensure coordinated efforts in securing the safe release of 21 people kidnapped last April 23 from the Sipadan Island resort in Sabah, Malaysia and brought to the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

continued, page 4 of 4

The move came after the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead their foreign captives if the Philippine government continues military offensives against the terrorist group.

National Security Adviser Alexander Aguirre said Monday that Cabinet Cluster E, which handles political and national security concerns, has designated Secretary Orlando Mercado of the Department of National Defense (DND) as the task force's overall head.

"(The) Cabinet has organized a task group to have a unified and coordinated action on the problem. And the Secretary of National Defense has been designated as the overall in charge to attend to this problem with the concerned units or agencies," Aguirre told a news briefing in Malacañang.

Aguirre said the group will closely coordinate with the negotiating team headed by Governor Nur Misuari of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Governor Abdusakur Tan suggested that military operations be intensified along Sulu's coastlines to prevent the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers from escaping with the hostages.

"Unlike in the Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan which is fixed, the one in Sulu is different since the area is bigger where they can move from one area to another," Tan said.

Captain ball

Secretary Mercado said Misuari remains the "captain ball" of efforts to ensure the hostages' safe release.

The coordinating group under the DND will include a public information team to provide reports on the Sulu hostage situation to the public, Aguirre said.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Western Mindanao (Region IX) will also provide a unit for support services.

A special security task force, Aguirre said, will also be on standby to "undertake any kind of security operations in support of the negotiations" being conducted by Misuari.

(With reports from the Associated Press)

May 3, 2000, ABS-CBN, 1:34 AM, Military won't budge on beheading threat,

QUEZON CITY (ABS-CBN) - Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado remains unfazed by terrorist kidnappers who threatened to start beheading the 21 hostages they seized from Sipadan Island in Malaysia last April 23, if military troops closing in on them do not retreat.
Mercado declared that government soldiers have already surrounded and will not pull out of the coastal areas of the southern Philippine province of Sulu where the Muslim terrorist group Abu Sayyaf has taken its French, German, Finnish, South African, Lebanese, Malaysian, and Filipino hostages.

The military is closing in on the Abu Sayyaf's lair in Baranggay Samak in Talipao town, Jolo island, and has temporarily set up military outposts in the adjacent barangays of Maimbung and Bandang.

In an interview with a local radio station, Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Escobar warned they would launch a "surprise" against the advancing military. "Maybe two heads for tomorrow,'' Escobar added.

Escobar stressed that the government troops were so close that the kidnappers could already see them.

Fighting later erupted on the perimeter of a security cordon less than two kilometers from where the 21 hostages are being held, leaving at least one soldier dead and injuring several others.

Officials claimed the clash was a chance encounter and was not linked to rescue efforts.

Secretary Mercado said that while the government is concerned about the welfare of the mostly foreign captives, he stressed it has a duty to protect the country from terrorists.

"We are willing to bend over backwards and accommodate their demands if only to secure the release of the hostages. But we cannot abdicate the sovereignty of our nation," he stressed.

About 50 to 70 heavily armed Abu Sayyaf rebels, their faces covered with hoods, guarded the area, about 45 minutes up a rugged path from the nearest road.

Philippine military commanders said they are moving in more troops to prevent Abu Sayyaf rebels holding another group of hostages in Basilan province from linking up with the rebels on Jolo island.

Momentary relief

For the first time since their abduction, the hostages were able to wash up and get medical attention.

Eleven boxes of relief supplies were sent by emissaries of the hostages' respective countries and were received Tuesday.

Sulu health officer Dr. Nelda Amin delivered the relief goods. However, reports gathered by the ABS-CBN News Channel said the rebels fired at Amin's team while on its way to the camp where the hostages were being held.

It was not confirmed who exactly was behind the shooting incident.

"Yesterday we had no food, not water, the sun was too hot. So they built a second pipeline and today we are lucky we got water and we all get washed up," hostage Sonya Wending said.

Dr. Amin, meanwhile, said she was turned down by the Abu Sayyaf to release two hostages who need to be taken to hospital.

French hostage Stephon Loisy is suffering from a urinary tract infection and German hostage Renate Wallert has cardiopulmonary disease and high blood pressure.

"My family, I don't know if they know what happened. I don't know if they have news. I hope to say we're all okay. . . for now," said French hostage Stephon Loisy.

The hostages appealed to their respective embassies to pressure the Philippine government to speedily resolve the hostage crisis without the use of force.

"We are in a very serious situation. I would like to make that clear," said Wallert's husband, Werner. "We are risking our lives here and if the Philippine government should try to march in and find a military solution, there will be bloodshed, nothing else."

Relatives arrive

The family of Lebanese hostage Marie Moarbes arrived in the country on Tuesday.

Lebanese vice consul Joseph Assad said the family of Moarbes is prominent in Beirut and has expressed intention to go to Basilan.

However, Foreign Affairs secretary Domingo Siazon discouraged the family from doing so. He advised them to wait for the result of negotiations with the hostage-takers.

The Moarbes family has asked the Philippine government for security, fearing they may be abducted during their stay in the country.

Appeal from South Africa

Officials of the South African government appealed on Tuesday to the Philippine government and the Abu Sayyaf who have kidnapped 21 people not to take any rash actions that could endanger the hostages.

A South African couple, Monique and Callie Strydom, are among the hostages.

"Nothing should be done that would put the lives of all of the hostages in jeopardy," said Sipho Pityana, director general of South Africa's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"They should make and take extraordinary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of those hostages," he added.

South Africa sent its ambassador stationed in Malaysia to the Philippines to work together with officials of other countries whose citizens were kidnapped, Pityana said.

"It is unfair and unreasonable for them to be held for a minute longer, and we really appeal that they should be released at the earliest opportunity," he said.

No foreign participation

Secretary Mercado ruled out the demand of the Abu Sayyaf to include the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and representatives from the United Nations (UN) in the negotiations to secure the release of the hostages.

On Tuesday, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar also rejected suggestions from local politicians that the OIC should intervene.

He said that the OIC's concerns "(do) not extend to kidnapping''.

The OIC, based in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, represents 55 Muslim nations, including Malaysia.

Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora reiterated Mercado's statement and said the Philippine government will not allow the situation to be "internationalized".

"Nagkakaproblema tayo ngayon eh. Hindi sila papayag kung si ARMM chairman Misuari ang magiging negotiator. Ang gusto nila ay taga-UN. Di naman tayo papayag na ito'y ma-internationalize," Zamora said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel.

[We are having problems now. They (Abu Sayyaf) refuse to accept (Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao) chairman (Nur) Misuari as the negotiator. They want representatives from the UN. But we will not allow this because we don't want the situation to be internationalized.]

Zamora added that Cluster E of the Estrada cabinet, the group discussing the country's security concerns, will meet daily to formulate security measures until the crises in Mindanao are over.

"We will be meeting daily until the crises are over. We are facing three problems, one in Sulu, in Basilan, and the one with the MILF," he said.

Besides the hostages in Sulu, the Abu Sayyaf is holding captive 27 others in nearby Basilan. Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is engaging military troops in gun battles in North Cotabato.

More emissaries

While Zamora confirmed that Misuari will stay on as chief negotiator, Zamora claimed Malacañang may assign additional emissaries to speed up the resolution of the hostage crisis.

"Hanggat puwede, we are keeping Misuari. Pero kailangan namin eh magdagag ng emissary, " Zamora said.

[We will keep Misuari while we can. But we need additional emissaries.]

Secretary Mercado, meanwhile, denied reports that Misuari is being replaced as negotiator but admitted that Sulu governor Absudakur Tan has already been tapped by Malacañang to serve as an emissary.

"Hindi naman siya pinapalitan pero hindi naman nagangahulugan na hindi na pwede kumuha ng karagdagan tauhan na maaraing mamagitan sa negosasyon," Mercado said in a TV Patrol interview.

[We are not replacing (Misuari) but it does not mean that we (government) cannot get additional people to participate in the negotiations.]

However, Misuari earlier said he wished to be on top of negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf.

Malaysia hopeful

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi expressed hope the crisis which has shamed both the Philippine and Malaysian governments would be resolved soon.

"God willing we can resolve the situation as soon as the parties involved have spoken about having negotiations. We also do not want the release of the hostages be done the military way," he said.

Mercado confirmed that a Malaysian representative is set to arrive in the country on Wednesday to discuss with Secretary Siazon the possibility of participating in negotiations for the hostages' release.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said he would decide on whether to step in based on feedback from Malaysia's police chief Norian Mai.

Mai left for Manila on Sunday to discuss the hostage crisis with his Philippine counterpart.

"It's difficult for us to handle the crisis when it is not in our territory. The kidnappers and their captives are in foreign land,'' Syed Hamid was quoted as saying by the National Bernama News Agency.

Malaysia's leading Islamic opposition party on Tuesday called on the Philippine government to avoid using force to free the hostages.

The fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said in a statement that both Malaysia and the Philippines should consider "any justifiable requests'' made by the kidnappers to guarantee the safety of the 21 Abu Sayyaf captives.

The Abu Sayyaf is fighting for a separate Islamic state in the main southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party also criticized the Malaysian government's "lack of responsibility'' in protecting the country's waters, specially in pirate-infested areas.

Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Tuesday that Sipadan island, the site of the abduction, was once heavily guarded by authorities.

But tour operators complained there were too many policemen on the diving resort island, Abdullah said.


May 4, 2000, ABS-CBN, 10:06 PM, Gov't shuns ceasefire with Muslim rebels,

QUEZON CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Muslim secessionist rebels have rendered ceasefires a joke, said Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado.

With that, Mercado rejected on Thursday calls by Manila archbishop Jaime Sin and several lawmakers from Mindanao for the government to declare a ceasefire amid escalating gun battles between government forces and Muslim secessionist rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf.

"We've had a ceasefire for a long, long time. What has happened are occurrence of violations which has made this ceasefire a joke, Mercado said.

The Defense chief was referring particularly to bomb attacks on civilians in Mindanao, ambushes on military camps, and sabotage on government installations blamed on the MILF.

Also, the Abu Sayyaf is still holding hostage 35 Filipinos and foreigners in Basilan and Sulu provinces.

"Terrorism is the weapon of the weak. Our response should not be of panic but should be taken in its proper context. Because the (terrorist) objective is to project an image to attract attention," Secretary Mercado also said.

"We are continuing with our clearing operations of rebel forces along the Narciso Ramos Highway in Maguindanao. Hopefully, we'll be able to accomplish this in a few days' time," he added.

Government soldiers have secured the 16-kilometer highway which connects Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, where MILF rebels had earlier been extorting money from motorists, military officials said.

However, the MILF asserts that the military was trespassing on rebel territory which had already been recognized in a mutual agreement. The highway is close to the main MILF lair, Camp Abubakar, in Maguindanao.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Rafael Romero also said that the MILF continues to engage in terrorist acts in General Santos City.

Power supply in the city was recently disrupted after a bomb explosion tripped the local electric cooperative's transformer in Barangay Kalumpang.

As of Wednesday, Romero said Muslim rebels have perpetrated 29 violent incidents in Mindanao: 14 in Maguindanao, five in South Cotabato, four in General Santos City, three in North Cotabato, two in Sulu, and one Basilan.

Romero added a total of 39 lives have been lost since military operations started April 22 against the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf. Among the fatalities were 17 among government soldiers and secessionist rebels, and five civilians.

He added that 107 soldiers and 10 civilians have been wounded.

A total of 23,212 families or 148,812 individuals have been displaced in Maguindanao, North and South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur.

On reports of a renewed tactical alliance between the MILF and the communist New People's Army (NPA), Secretary Mercado assured that the government is capable of dealing with the threat.

"All of these things have been taken into consideration during military planning. This alliance would not result in the victory of the rebels and we can contain all threats," he said.

"Have trust and confidence in your Armed Forces," Mercado exhorted.


May 5, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:26 AM, Military solution a historical failure -- ARMM leaders,

COTABATO CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Four elected leaders of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) called on President Joseph Estrada on Thursday to reassess the government's use of military might as its apparent policy in solving the Muslim separatist conflict in the South.

Assemblywoman Fayzah Dumarpa of Lanao del Sur, Assemblyman Nazir Ynawat of Sulu, Assemblyman Ibrahim Ibay of Maguindanao, and Assemblyman Faislan Tago of Lanao del Sur, all members of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly, cautioned the President against adopting armed force to eliminate the insurgency problem.

"We fear that if the government will adopt this erroneous and myopic policy, the war will further escalate, as what is in fact happening now," they said.

The officers believe a peaceful political solution is the only answer to the problem of insurgency in Mindanao.

"The rebellion in Mindanao dates back during the Spaniards and, time and again, military solution has been proven to be ineffectual. We therefore call the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) panel to return to the negotiating table."

Dumarpa proposed the creation of an independent body acceptable to the military and the MILF to monitor their respective positions and to ensure that the ceasefire agreement is upheld.

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May 5, 2000, ABS-CBN, 2:15 AM, Open letter of Mindanao senators to the RP gov't,

We suggest to the President that the order of the day calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the government and the MILF.

The MILF had unilaterally withdrawn from the peace talks with the government a few days ago. It has blamed the government for allegedly initiating the hostilities by attacking its positions in Buldon, Talayan, and other camps. The government for its part blames the incursion of the MILF into areas not previously occupied by them for the cause of hostilities.

As a result of the hostilities, several innoncent civilians' lives, not to mention, the combatants', have been lost. Thousands have left their homes and their farms for safer places. Normal trade, transporation and communications have been disrupted.

To cite a facile example, the roads from Cotabato to General Santos, Davao, Lanao del Sur, and Bukidnon, in other words, the major arteries of interaction among the people of Mindanao are closed as a result of the hostilities.

In short, Mindanao bleeds and the bleeding unless stanched by seasonable action on the part of the leaders of both the government and the MILF, the island might just bleed to death and bring the nation itself to the edge of the grave.

Rather than engage in finger-pointing as to who is to blame for the loss of lives of so many innocent civilians - Muslims and Christians - in the current outbreak of hostilities in Mindanao, we suggest that the best thing to do is to have a ceasefire with the MILF.

As senators from Mindanao, we feel that we have to suggest a peaceful settlement of the problem posed by the MILF.

The peaceful settlement of the problem cannot prosper in an atmosphere of escalating violence.

Thus, the suggestion for an immediate cessation of hostilities to enable the government and the MILF to consider other options that may well solve the problem with a degree of finality.

May 9, 2000, ABS-CBN, 1:21 AM, Abu Sayyaf's roots in Ramos administration -- Pimentel,

PASAY CITY, (ABS-CBN) - Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. called for a Senate inquiry on Monday into reports that former military officials of the Ramos administration and the Cental Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed up covert operations to form the Muslim terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

"There is now emerging bits of information that Abu Sayyaf was indeed a creation of probably the CIA in connivance with or with the support of some select military officers during previous administration ," Pimentel said.

Pimentel claimed he obtained reports the Abu Sayyaf were initially recruited as mudjahidimsfor training by the CIA to fight the American war in Afghanistan during the war against Russia in the early 1990's.

Citing the 1995 massacre in Ipil, Zamboanga, Pimentel said the same information showed that funds intended for the Abu Sayaff either failed to arrive or were delayed, prompting the rebel group to consider robbing banks .

Pimentel claimed the US government provided the funds to create the group and that international terrorist Osama Bin Laden was the principal courier.

When funding stopped, the Abu Sayyaf's trained fighters turned into bandits and resorted to terrorism, he added.

Senator Rodolfo Biazon called Pimentel's pronouncements "wild" speculation.


May 9, 2000, ABS-CBN, 3:23 AM, Abu Sayyaf rejects Misuari,

MANILA, (ABS-CBN) - The Abu Sayyaf has rejected former secessionist rebel leader Nur Misuari as the government's chief negotiator for the release of the Muslim extremist group's hostages.

In a letter to President Estrada, the Abu Sayyaf demanded to negotiate instead with Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora for the release of 21 foreign and Filipino hostages being held in Sulu.

The letter was written Saturday during a visit by two Associated Press (AP) journalists to the rebels' hide-out in the hills of Talipao, Jolo island, Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf also demanded the participation of representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the United Nations, ambassadors representing the countries of the foreign hostages, and a media representative.

Zamora disclosed that the Abu Sayyaf demanded that the Libyan ambassador to the Philippines Rajab Azzarouq participate in the hostage release negotiations, as well as Muslim scholar Ustadz Ibrahim Ghazali and Dr. Hannibal Barrah of the Mindanao State University.

Although Zamora said the request "was not the actual demand of the Abu Sayyaf", he stressed the personalities mentioned could help open communication lines between the government and the hostage-takers.

Possible concession

President Estrada said Malacañang will maintain a "no-ransom policy".

However, the MILF asserts that the military was trespassing on rebel territory which had already been recognized in a mutual agreement. The highway is close to the main MILF lair, Camp Abubakar, in Maguindanao.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Rafael Romero also said that the MILF continues to engage in terrorist acts in General Santos City.

Power supply in the city was recently disrupted after a bomb explosion tripped the local electric cooperative's transformer in Barangay Kalumpang.

As of Wednesday, Romero said Muslim rebels have perpetrated 29 violent incidents in Mindanao: 14 in Maguindanao, five in South Cotabato, four in General Santos City, three in North Cotabato, two in Sulu, and one Basilan.

Romero added a total of 39 lives have been lost since military operations started April 22 against the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf. Among the fatalities were 17 among government soldiers and secessionist rebels, and five civilians.

He added that 107 soldiers and 10 civilians have been wounded.

A total of 23,212 families or 148,812 individuals have been displaced in Maguindanao, North and South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur.

On reports of a renewed tactical alliance between the MILF and the communist New People's Army (NPA), Secretary Mercado assured that the government is capable of dealing with the threat.

"All of these things have been taken into consideration during military planning. This alliance would not result in the victory of the rebels and we can contain all threats," he said.

"Have trust and confidence in your Armed Forces," Mercado exhorted.

However, he stressed that the government will take into consideration the Abu Sayyaf's demand for new negotiators, since foreigners are among the hostages.

"We are prepared to consider that since those involved are not only Filipinos but foreign nationals," the President said.

Among the 21 hostages are French, German, Finnish, South African, Lebanese, Malaysian, and Filipino nationals who were abducted from a Malaysian diving resort two weeks ago and brought by boat to Sulu..

The Philippine government earlier said the hostage crisis is a domestic issue that should not be "internationalized" as it would only gain publicity for the Abu Sayyaf.

Press secretary Ricardo Puno said the demand did not immediately sit well with Palace officials.

"To put it quite bluntly, our initial reaction to this is not very positive,'' said Puno. "We must discuss this some more because the principle involved here is whether they should be allowed to specify conditions under which talks will be held.''

Foreign Affairs secretary Domingo Siazon also said the government is not inclined to give in readily to the Abu Sayyaf's demand.

"The OIC has been requested to participate and to assist in anyway. The real problem right now is that it is hard to define exactly what role the negotiators would perform," Siazon said.

Diplomats from the hostages' countries have arrived in the Philippines to offer help.

A high-ranking European Union diplomat, Javier Solana, is expected to arrive in Manila on Tuesday to underline Europe's concern for the safety of the hostages.

Outdoor cage

The hostages are now being held in an outdoor cage made of branches, with a sheet of banana leaves spread on the ground.

The cage is divided in two, with the foreign tourists separated from the Asians.

The kidnapping was part of a wave of violence that has swept across the impoverished southern Mindanao region in recent weeks.

Muslim guerrillas have spent 28 years fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, the main southern island of the Philippines which is dominantly Roman Catholic.

When the AP journalists visited the Abu Sayyaf camp, more than 100 guerrillas armed with M-16 rifles, grenades, and long knives roamed the area in the foothills of a small mountain.

Some were setting up a row of tents made of blue rice sacks while others cooked rice over a wood fire.

The hostages appealed emotionally to the Philippine military to halt its operations in the area.

The rebels have clashed repeatedly with government soldiers since last week, when the military set up a security cordon around the rebels' hideout.

On Sunday, the rebels and troops traded mortar and automatic weapons fire, a government official said. A rebel and a soldier were killed.


Abu Sayyaf rebels released a local Filipino bank employee kidnapped more than two months ago after his family paid a ransom, officials said Monday.

Patrick Francis Viray was released on Saturday, police said.

The Abu Sayyaf originally demanded a P2-million ransom, but this was reduced to P200,000 after the family negotiated directly with the kidnappers, officials said.

Viray had been held briefly in the same place as the 21 hostages kidnapped in Malaysia, police said.

A separate Abu Sayyaf group is holding on to eight of 50 Filipino hostages seized last March 20 from two schools in nearby Basilan province.

Fifteen were rescued in a military operation last week, four of whom were critically wounded in the crossfire.

Four others were killed, including Claretian priest Fr. Roel Gallardo and three schoolteachers.

The rest were released much earlier in exchange for food and medicine.

Meanwhile, 14 soldiers were reportedly killed in an ambush Sunday by Abu Sayyaf rebels in Lantawan, near where the military rescued 15 of the Filipino hostages last week.

The military reported that three guides and a local village leader were killed along with at least a dozen soldiers. More than 10 other soldiers were reported wounded.

After the battle, bodies in blood-soaked uniforms were hauled off on a horse-drawn litter. Some had been beheaded by the rebels. One grimy soldier wept, as helicopters clattered overhead.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, bomb explosions and clashes between government troops and the larger Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have killed dozens of people in the past week.

The fighting with the MILF flared on April 28 when soldiers attacked a group of MILF rebels that set up checkpoints along the Narciso Ramos Highway in Maguindanao, near the main rebel lair, Camp Abubakar.

The MILF said it considered the military action an attack on the camp and withdrew from peace talks.

(With a report from the Associated Press)


May 10, 2000, ABS-CBN, Profile: Abu Sayyaf,
Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic extremist group operating in the southern Philippines led by Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani. This is a lost command originated from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. Report shows that there are about 200 members, mostly younger Muslims, many of whom have studied or worked in the Gulf states, where they were exposed to radical Islamic ideology.

Abu Sayyaf's activities are the following: uses bombs, assassinations, kidnappings for ransom, and extortion payments from companies and businessmen in its efforts to promote an Iranian-style Islamic state in Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines heavily populated by Muslims. Staged a raid on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995, the group's first large-scale action. The group is suspected in several assassinations in 1997, including that of a Catholic bishop in February.

This terrorist group operates in the southern Philippines and occasionally in Manila.

They are supported through external aids coming from Islamic extremists in the Middle East.
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May 27, 2001, ABS-CBN, Philippines Gunmen Seize 20 Hostages From Tourist Resort on Palawan Island,

Gunmen have raided a tourist resort on the southern Philippine island of Palawan seizing 20 people, including three American tourists.

The chairman of the Philippine's Security Council says the kidnappers have been spotted in a boat with the hostages off the southern coast of Palawan near Malaysia.

Police said about 20 men, armed with assault rifles, carried out Sunday's (May 27) raid at about 5 am (2100 GMT Saturday) on Dos Palmas resort on Arrecifi island, near the Palawan provincial capital of Puerto Princessa.

On arriving at the resort, about 600 kilometres (375 miles) southwest of Manila, the raiders casually walked to a pavilion where several staff members were working and held them at gunpoint, resort guards said.

Others went to cottages built on stilts over the water and grabbed guests who were sleeping inside.

Three Americans, thirteen domestic tourists, including an eight-year-old boy, and four resort guards and staff were abducted.

Police identified the three Americans as Martin Burnham and his wife, Gracia, both missionaries of the congregation New Tribes Mission.

They have been working with cultural minorities in the Philippines for 15 years and were vacationing at the resort.

The other American, a tourist, was vacationing at the resort with his Filipina girlfriend.

The raiders took them both.

The raiders were also apparently hungry because refrigerators had been ransacked, and some of them went to the resort kitchen to forage for more food, officials said.

Witnesses said many of the 10 women tourists who were among the hostages taken were in tears as their captors forced them at gunpoint into a motorboat that took them to an unknown destination.

Hours after the attack on Dos Palmas resort, a motorboat believed to be carrying the gunmen and their hostages was spotted by military aircraft near the maritime border with Malaysia, said national security adviser Roilo Golez.

"The armed forces have already dispatched a hot pursuit team and the latest is that a vessel of that description, suspected to be the vessel used in the hostage-taking, has been sighted near Buksug Island near the southern tip of Palawan. The surveillance was done by the Philippine Airforce and the Navy has already dispatched ships to intercept this vessel...we don't know but if ransom is their motive we want to emphasise that the policy of the Arroyo administration is no ransom and no negotiation with armed bandits", Golez said.

Golez could not confirm whether the kidnappers were members of the fundamentalist Abu Sayyaf rebel force, a separatist group whose avowed goal is to set up an Islamic state in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic country.

The Abu Sayyaf last year seized more than 40 foreigners and Filipinos from two tourist resorts in nearby Malaysia and from Jolo island in the southern Philippines.

Many of the victims were released by the Abu Sayyaf after big ransoms were paid.

Some were rescued by soldiers and others escaped.

One Filipino resort worker kidnapped last year is still held.

Police reports said the raiders were talking in Tausog, a dialect usually spoken by Muslims on Jolo island, where the Abu Sayyaf rebels operate.

Police said the raiders left in the two boats with their victims.

One of the boats was seen speeding off to the northeast, in the direction of other tourist resorts in the area.

All other tourist resorts on Palawan have been put on alert and Navy ships as well air force helicopters had stepped up security around the island, the military said.


June 18, 2000, ABS-CBN, Philippine Rebels Free 5 Children Held Hostage Raising Hopes that the 21 Mainly Western Hostages May Also Be Freed,

Philippine rebels have freed five children from a group of hostages captured in March. The move has raised hopes they may be prepared to release another group of hostages, including a number of foreigners, snatched while on holiday in Malaysia.

Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf freed five Filipino children near Jolo on Saturday (June 17), three months after they were taken hostage.

They were met at Zamboanga airport by Philippines government chief negotiator Roberto Aventajado.

Aventajado said the children were released in an exchange for six relatives of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy
Janjalani, who had been captured by vigilantes.

The children were among scores of people abducted by the Abu Sayyaf members in raids on two high schools in Basilan, 900 km south of Manila, on March 20.

Some were released, while 15 were rescued and four killed, including a Roman Catholic priest, in early May after the guerrillas tried to repel government troops, who attacked the Abu Sayyaf group's mountain stronghold in Basilan.

Three others-- two teachers and a student-- are still being held by Abu Sayyaf fighters.

The rebel group also released a statement saying it was willing to continue negotiations aimed at securing the release of 21 mainly foreign hostages, kidnapped from a Malaysian diving resort on April 23.

The guerrillas kidnapped nine Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two South Africans, two Finns, two Filipinos and a Lebanese,and are holding them on Jolo, an island in the southern Philippines.

The resort where the hostages were abducted is in Sabah state -- once ruled by Moslem chieftains from the Sulu islands that also include Jolo.

The Philippines has been under severe international pressure to end the hostage ordeal quickly. Many of the
hostages have fallen ill and the long captivity has driven some to thoughts of suicide. Several need hospital treatment.

On Thursday, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar met Philippines President Josef Estrada in Manila to discuss the hostage crisis.

Malaysia has suggested ransom might have to be considered to win the freedom of the hostages, and there have been reports the Malaysian government was willing to pay 2.7 million U.S. dollars for the nine Malaysian hostages.

The Philippines government said early this week it was taking a break of three to four days in its talks with Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf organisation is one of two groups fighting for an Islamic state in the south of this mainly
Roman Catholic country.

December 2, 2000, ABS-CBN, 6:41 PM, Estrada reassures children of missing PR man,

MANILA, (ABS-CBN) - President Joseph Estrada on Saturday reassured the children of missing public relations man Salvador Dacer, authorities are looking for leads to uncover the whereabouts of their father.

Estrada, who sponsored the baptismal and wedding of Ampy, the youngest of Dacer's daughters, made the assurance in a Friday night conversation with the latter.

"My instruction to the PNP and the NBI is to go all out, to get whoever is the kidnapper of my compadre Bubby Dacer," the President told reporters.


December 17, 2000, ABS-CBN, 11:29 PM, 7 people massacred in Bacolod,

BACOLOD CITY (ABS-CBN) –An alleged dispute with the family helper resulted in the death of seven individuals, including three children, police authorities said.

Authorities found early Sunday morning the bodies of the Revilla family and one of their maids inside their house in 25th Calamba Street.

Found dead were Florenda Esteban Revilla, Carlos Revilla, Jr., Dolores Ogatis, Rachel Gonzales, Benrico Revilla, Jayvee Revilla, Michael Revilla, and Mark Revilla.

Florenda's body was inside her bedroom and lying on the floor with her head hacked. Her husband, Carlos Revilla Jr., was soaked in blood inside the kitchen of the main house.

Ogatis was allegedly killed in the kitchen while in another room, Rachel Gonzales' body was located, her head covered with a towel.

Police investigators said they were able to record six fingerprints and are now searching for the whereabouts of the suspects.

In another part of the house, Benrico Revilla and his 3 sons were found naked and lifeless. The three children were identified as Jayvee, 9, Michael, 11 and Mark, 13.

On the walls, the suspects scribbled a note using their victim's blood.

Rudy Alfonso, the Revilla's family driver, has identified Damon Gallo as one of those who perpetrated the crime.

Alfonso said Gallo hacked him, but he managed to escape and seek the help of the police.

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