August 20, 2001, Inquirer, Abu Sabaya no longer in Basilan, says governor, by Julie Alipala-Inot, Inquirer News Service, Posted: 0:24 AM (Manila Time)
ISABELA CITY--Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Ahmad Salayuddin, alias Abu Sabaya, has escaped the military dragnet in Basilan and is no longer on the island, Gov. Wahab Akbar said.
Citing a "reliable" source, Akbar said Sabaya is reported to be hiding in Zamboanga del Sur, under the protection of Commander Abdusalam Kiddie.
Kiddie leads a Moro Islamic Liberation Front "lost command" based in Zamboanga del Sur. The Kiddie group is also in the kidnap-for-ransom business and was responsible for the abduction of Italian priest Luciano Benedetti in 1998.
Akbar said that it was Kiddie who helped Sabaya to escape from Basilan and make his way to Zamboanga del Sur.
"The Abu Sayyaf are able to escape easily, they are not all hiding in the jungle," the governor said in Filipino.
But Brig. Gen. Glicerio Sua, commander of the 1st Tabak Division, said he believed Sabaya was still in Basilan. The military would check Akbar's report, however, he said.
Sua blamed the media for causing the rift between Lamitan parish priest Cirilo Nacorda and Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, the former head of the task force assigned to go after the Abu Sayyaf.
Nacorda had accused Dominguez and four other military officials of allegedly conniving with the Abu Sayyaf to allow the bandits to escape during the June 2 siege in Lamitan.
He also alleged that military officials were helping facilitate the payment of ransom to the Abu Sayyaf.
"The media, especially those very enterprising individuals, who poke fun and fan intrigues, they are the problem," he said.
Col. Danilo Servando, Southern Command spokesperson, said the media had contributed to the rift.
"These were just simple lapses from a ground commander," Servando said.
But Servando said the alleged payment of ransom during the June 2 siege was a "pure lie."