Friday, September 7, 2012

May 29, 2001 Dos Palmas

May 29, 2001, BBC News, Assault ordered on kidnappers,
May 29, 2001, BBC News, Philippines hostage search begins,
May 29, 2001, BBC News, Philippine rebels threaten hostages,
May 29, 2001, Washington Post, Muslim Rebel Group in Philippines Acknowledges Latest Hostage-Taking
May 29, 2001, Gulf News, Gulf News says; Abu Sayyaf strikes again,
May 29, 2001, Gulf News, Army set to launch rescue mission, by Gilbert Felongco and Al Jacinto,
May 29, 2001, Gulf News, American hostage appeals for talks with Abu Sayyaf, by Al Jacinto...,
May 29, 2001, Gulf News, Tourists leaving Palawan, by Jasmin Arguiza and Barbara Mae Dacanay,
May 29, 2001, Gulf News, Arroyo vows to crush Abu Sayyaf kidnappers, by Barbara Mae Dacanay...,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer, Soldiers confront MNLF members on reports ex-rebels hid raiders, 8:52 PM
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, GMA to Sayyaf: Force with force, Julie Alipala-Inot, Jonathan Ma,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Stock index falls below 1,400 level,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Roco offers 2 cents worth on kidnapping, Blanche Rivera...,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Protests hound legislators,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Estrada son asks Sandigan: Exclude me from plunder,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Subic chief cries harassment, by Michael Lim Ubac,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Bishops to oil firms: Give poor a break, by Norman Bordadora,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Lacson wants probe of charges stopped, by Rocky Nazareno,
May 29, 2001, Inquirer News Service, Army battalion back in Mindoro, by Carlito Pablo,
May 29, 2001, Sun Star, Sayyaf owns abduction of 20 tourists,
May 29, 2001, Thomas Crosbie Breaking News, Extremists admit kidnapping island tourists,
May 29, 2001, Thomas Crosbie Breaking News, Extremists threaten to kill hostages,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Abu Sayyaf, Part II - Sketches by Ana Marie Pamintuan,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Here they come again: What happened to ‘all-out’ war on the Abu Sayyaf
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, AFP: Vigilantes vs Sayyaf welcome, by Paolo Romero,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, P100-M bounty offered for capture of bandits: Sayyaf slips through naval b..
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Now Estrada wants 'resthouse arrest', by Jose Rodel Clapano,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Another major disaster for the whole country, by Alejandro R. Roces,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, What happened to 'all-out' war on the Abu Sayyaf? by Max V. Soliven,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, US issues travel ban in South, by Aurea Calica,
May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, PNP-IG cops violated rules of engagement in Lozada shooting?
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Warrants issued vs Dacer slay suspects, by Jose Aravilla,
May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Rivals of Tarlac's Yap spurn his offer of reconciliation by Benjie Villa

May 29, 2001, Inquirer, Soldiers confront MNLF members on reports ex-rebels hid raiders, 8:52 PM

DIGOS CITY—Government troopers and members of the Moro National Liberation Front all but shot each other following suspicions by the soldiers that the former guerrillas were hiding in Malita, Davao del Sur, the raiders of the Barcelo Pearl Farm Beach Resort in Palawan.

Since Sunday, soldiers surrounded Camp Bilal, one of the biggest MNLF camps in Barangay Mana in Malita, after intelligence reports claimed that some of the raiders have sought refuge there.

As the military was preparing to enter the camp, which included Sitio Talucanga in Mana and portions of Barangay Balas, MNLF combatants under Commander Ustadz Muksin positioned themselves to defend their "territory."

The MNLF leadership heavily criticized the military cordon around the camp and likened it to what the Kempetai Army did during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

Aside from restricting the movement of the residents, the military was also accused of rounding up male residents and searching them like criminals.

Randolph Parcasio, a deputy of MNLF chair Nur Misuari, also accused the military of hamletting, a term used during the Marcos regime to refer to the military’s practice of sealing off villages in their hunt for communist or Moro guerrillas.

An alarmed Undersecretary Jesus Dureza, presidential assistant for regional concerns in Southern Mindanao, went to Barangay Mana Tuesday afternoon and conducted a dialogue between the military and the MNLF there.

Dureza himself admitted that the tension was very high when he arrived in Camp Bilal.

To ease the tension, Dureza said he and defense undersecretary Nabil Tan and Parcasio convinced the local MNLF leadership to allow the military to get inside Camp Bilal and villagers and armed MNLF members would get out one by one.

The military, however, failed to find any Pearl Farm raider there.

Intelligence officials said they were very positive that the raiders stayed in Camp Bilal but the refusal of the MNLF to let the military in had given the suspects time to escape.

At least three areas, including Barangay Talagotong in Don Marcelino town, are being tightly watched by the military.

Col. Pedrito Magsino, commander of the 601st Brigade, said the armed men have no way to get out of the area already cordoned off by the military and it would not take time before a major encounter could take place.

In Davao City, regional tourism director Sonio Garcia confirmed that the Japanese Consular Office has issued a travel advisory to all its nationals to reconsider plans of going to Talikud Island and Samal Island following the May 22 attack on the Barcelo Pearl Farm Island Resort.

Garcia said the "Level 2" travel advisory tells Japanese nationals to cancel holidays to the islands until the peace and order situation improves. --Allan A. Nawal with a report from Ayan C. Mellejor

May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Abu Sayyaf, Part II-Sketches, by Ana Marie Pamintuan

There are people who feel perverse relief from the latest Abu Sayyaf caper. At last, a non-political activity! Now we can take a break from the usual bunch of thieving, vote-buying, cheating politicians ce-lebrating their victory or crying foul as they are replaced by a new bunch of thieves, vote buyers and poll cheats.

Only Tourism Secretary Dick Gordon is wringing his hands in dismay over the Abu Sayyaf raid on Dos Palmas. For the rest of us who are sick and bored of the Comelec show, we’re riveted to the revival of the soap opera that was so rudely interrupted by Luis "Chavit" Singson and the impeachment drama last year. Here comes Abu Sayyaf Dos, or is it Tres? Will we soon see the familiar leer of Ghalib "Commander Robot" Andang again? Or is this show being run by Khadaffi Janjalani from the hinterlands of Basilan?

Whoever emerges as the ogre of the hour, it's good to focus on a drama where it's easy to identify the villains. For a while there, the line between good and evil in national affairs was becoming too blurred for comfort.

The malicious among us are noting that the Abu Sayyaf's abduction of 21 mostly foreign hostages last year in the Malaysian resort of Sipadan diverted national attention from the stock market scandal involving Best World Resources. Too bad for the Erap administration that the diversion didn't last long enough to blunt Singson's disclosures. By the time Erap was impeached, the Abu Sayyaf's only remaining hostages were American Jeffrey Schilling and Filipino divemaster Roland Ullah – two guys who were even suspected of connivance with their kidnappers.

Such talk about diversionary tactics has been fueled by reports that the Abu Sayyaf, which projects itself as a champion of Islamic fundamentalism, is in fact a military creation gone out of control, like the Red Scorpion Group and the Kuratong Baleleng. Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffi Janjalani, notorious for his ruthlessness, was arrested a few years back and detained by the military but mysteriously escaped from Camp Aguinaldo, later resurfacing in Basilan.

Now the caper in Palawan has diverted our attention from the slow vote count, Joseph Estrada's court cases and his request for comfortable jail accommodations (the latest for "resthouse arrest" – if we're going to bend the rules, might as well bend all the way). And the administration has another crisis in its hands.

No one should be surprised that the Abu Sayyaf has staged another daring kidnapping. The group has been ignored by the government for several months, despite warnings from various sectors that the terrorists were regrouping and replenishing their weaponry after the military offensive last year in Sulu.

While all the foreign hostages taken last year are now free, all the Abu Sayyaf commanders are also scot-free, and the bulk of the $20 million they got as ransom was never recovered. All that was recovered was $240,000 that two suspected Abu Sayyaf members tried to convert into pesos in a bank in Zamboanga.

Some individuals have accused the previous administration of pocketing up to $10 million of the ransom money – a charge that's not surprising. If the accusations were true, that still leaves the Abu Sayyaf with $10 million. That's more than P500 million at current exchange rates – enough to buy Commander Robot an orchard, with more than enough to spare for guns and ammunition, daily supplies, intelligence gathering and operational expenses of all the Abu Sayyaf factions.

Even P500 million, however, quickly runs out. What's a terrorist to do? Launch another kidnapping, of course, since it has proved so lucrative in the past. And the group sure picked a juicy target. Palawan is one of our most popular tourist destinations. When foreigners ask me which places they should visit in this country, Palawan is always on my list.

Why didn't the military finish off the Abu Sayyaf last year? Soldiers were supposed to have sealed off all exit points of the fleeing terrorists on Sulu island. There was supposed to be a naval blockade. Yet the troops pulled back after two French journalists escaped. Afterwards the Abu Sayyaf was largely ignored despite its repeated threats to execute Schilling.

Yesterday there was supposed to be another naval blockade around the tiny island of Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi in the middle of the Sulu Sea, where the kidnappers were supposed to have stopped over from Puerto Princesa. Predictably, the kidnappers slipped past the blockade and even managed to separate their hostages into two groups and take them to Basilan and Sulu.

It's going to be another long hostage drama. By the time it's over, we’ll have a new Congress. And Erap may be back on Polk Street.

May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Here they come again: What happened to 'all-out' war on the Abu Sayyaf? by Max V. Soliven,

Now that it's confirmed – out of their own big mouths and those of their pathetic captives' – that it was the Abu Sayyaf bandits who snatched three Americans and 13 Filipinos out of the Dos Palmas island resort early Sunday morning, let's not be suckered a second time around.

If we even think of "negotiating" with the hoodlum-kidnappers (as they’ve obviously compelled their American hostages to plead, so we'll get all weak-kneed and mushy about it), we'll suffer the same humiliation all over again. The Abus, flush with the ransom money they collected (while the Estrada government was bleating it wasn't "talking ransom"), are doing a repeat number – grab a few whites, they sneer, and the Manila government will cave in and crawl, begging them to release their captives unharmed.

The present incident is the bitter fruit of our supine and toothless policy with regard to last year's Sipadan "hostages" – the insolent Abu chieftains got away with the cash, we ended up with crud on our faces, while Libya's meddling strongman Muammar Ghadaffi waltzed off with the credit and the applause of the Germans and the French. (And, for Pete's sake, don’t bring back Robert Aventajado).

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must learn from the pratfall of her ill-starred predecessor and refuse to dicker, no matter what, with the arrogant Abu Sayyaf pirates. Of course, we must make every effort to locate and rescue the captives, but we must never again permit those ruthless bandits (as they did in the past) to use them as "shields" and bargaining chips. It sounds heartless, I'm sorry, but it's the only way. Give 'em the gun. As the late Ramon Magsaysay repeatedly declared when he fought and crushed the Communist Huk Movement: Find 'em, fool 'em, fight 'em, finish 'em!

As a matter of fact, what happened to the "all-out war" Commander-in-Chief GMA launched against the Abus last April in Sulu ("Pupulbusin ko sila!" she had vowed). She had dispatched Armed Forces Chief of Staff Diomedio Villanueva, no less, to "get" that cheeky Abu Commander Abu Sabaya, in answer to his brag that he would send her then hostaged American Jeffrey Schilling's head as a birthday gift. GMA's wrath was a wonder to behold. Her Army troops, Marines, and PNP, indeed, had plucked Schilling safely out of the enemy's lair; but now, Commander Abu Sabaya, uncaught and unchastened, has grabbed himself three more Americans. The late General Douglas MacArthur of "I shall return" vintage, in his second most famous statement, asserted: "There is no substitute for victory." We can never claim "victory" unless we land Abu Sabaya, Khadaffi Janjalani (brother of the Abus' slain founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani), and the other Abu war-chiefs. They got away from the armed forces, quite obviously, because now they're the ones holding the "new" hostages from Palawan.

And where, oh where, is that other high-profile villain, Commander "Robot" alias Ghalib Andang? Will he surface, too, grinning merrily and thumbing his dirty nose at the government?

Everybody will be cluck-clucking like mad today, I'm certain, and decrying the "death" of tourism to the Philippines.

Never mind the tourists! Of course we'll miss them, their happy smiles, and most of all their happily-dispensed dollars and other valuta.The real blow is not to our international image and prestige (shucks, there are bloody incidents everywhere, suicide bombs and firefights in Israel and Palestine, riots in Oldham, England, etc.) What dismays me is the breakdown of law and order, and respect for authority and government enforcement in our country.

We’ve just had the Commission on Elections bungle the elections (the kuro-kuro is that certain Comelec commissioners deliberately sabotaged the process, a suspicion that plays well in the current climate of paranoia and discontent). We've had politicians shooting directly at each other. We've had the Communist New People's Army (NPA) slaughtering candidates, while we’re blissfully talking "peace" with them in faraway Oslo. We've seen Moro rebels and bandits on the rampage, while our government has been trying to strike a peace deal with them in Kuala Lumpur.

If the government now looks punch-drunk, it's because the punches are coming at the Arroyo administration not merely from La Gloria's enemies but, with even worse venom, from her own self-proclaimed "friends" and supporters. The vociferous Bayan Muna attacks her for being too "kind" to Estrada, the Erap-supporters assail her for being "harsh" on the same ex-President, her Civil Society blowhards snarl that if GMA insists on pushing through the "power bill", they'll mount another People Power against her. Sanamagan! What do we have here? The rule of the mob? After EDSA DOS, we had a reverse EDSA TRES. Now those snobs and nabobs (whom GMA thought were on her side) are huffing and puffing that they'll stage EDSA KUWATRO against the administration, too?

We're beginning to look worse than Indonesia – and, as Gus Dur himself would put it (as he plays his last "blind man's bluff"), that would be saying a lot!

Incidentally, the Dos Palmas resort was supposed to be "safe". It's situated only ten minutes' helicopter ride from the Palawan capital of Puerto Princesa, not some remote bay. It's only an hour by bus and a short banca hop away.

The Abu gang came out of the sea aboard a swift banca equipped with three high-speed outboard motors. The bandits were attired in Army uniforms to mislead the unsuspecting security guards who, caught by surprise, surrendered without a fight. They got away with 20 hostages (those who were in the seaside cottages on stilts), and would have taken more but their "boat" could only accommodate 20 prisoners along with the Abu raiders themselves.

Why couldn't the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Air Force catch them? You've got the answer even before the question is asked: Our Navy doesn't have fast patrol and pursuit craft, even less our leaky Coast Guard. I heard some radio commentators carping about the PAF. Why couldn't even our planes overhaul the fleeing kidnappers? The radio broadcasters cracked: "Doesn't the Air Force have gasoline for its aircraft?" You bet. No gasoline. Even worse than that, alas – no insult intended to our intrepid and gallant airmen – no airplanes.

Susmariosep! We call ourselves a Republic, yet we force our soldiers to go into combat with worn-out weapons and tin-can armored cars, we defend our archipelago of 7,100 islands with a Navy that counts mostly relics from the mothball fleet of the United States and second-hand "peacock" class vessels bought from Hong Kong, we humiliate our aviators by giving them only ancient OV-10 Broncos, gunless S-211s, a few obsolete F-5s, and overworked helicopters.

The Abus, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, NPA, and other troublemakers know all these and give us the runaround. That bandit "banca" easily sped away from any Naval or Coast Guard vessel (if any were in the vicinity) at over 25 knots! The "enemy" knows, full well, our armed forces' lack of response capability.

What happened to the P7.8 billion AFP "modernization" fund paid to the Ramos administration by the real estate buyers of the Fort Bonifacio property? Perhaps ex-President Fidel V. Ramos, if he's an ally of President Arroyo, will finally help her find it – and USE IT!

Columnists, I know (mea culpa), tend to sound like perpetual scolds. As a former President once snapped back: "If those critics are so smart, how come they don't run for the Presidency and become President?" (He left unsaid, possibly: "How come a dumb-dumb like me became President instead?")

I'm supposed to be on "leave" from The STAR. But I had to come out today with this single column, then it's back to my short vacation. But I felt I had to say: Mrs. President, go do your job, and, as the US Navy hero Farragut declared: "Damn the torpedoes!" This is a crisis and we need heroes and heroines. In this solemn hour.

I'll say it again. The President has the loneliest job in the country. And she must be lonely. She must not be the smiling "Madam Gloria", friendly to everybody, but must be an unrelenting leader who has no friends, relatives or cronies. (Erap, alas, for all his charms, had too many of each.)

Stop listening to those who claim they supported you, who "rallied" at EDSA DOS and allegedly put you in office, who backstop youkuno in the military or police! Push away the solicitous advice of former Presidents, too, whether they're your idols, pals, or your enemies. You're alone up there on the peak of Mount Olympus. Heed only your instincts and the voice of God through your own conscience. Easier said than done, it's admitted: But you asked for the job and the Filipino people (and Fate, don't forget) gave it to you.

As for peace and order: Spare no one. Demolish the warlord armies. Go after the pirates, and the local politicians (they're the ones who stir up trouble and subversion in Mindanao). It is better to be feared, though this may sound cruel and callous, than loved. Love dies. Fear lasts. The most important thing is that the evil and conniving should fear the remorseless hand of justice.

I saw the President in that interview over Cable News Network (CNN). When asked what was her aim, she disappointingly advanced the motherhood statement: "To fight poverty." Every Chief Executive, I remember, pledged to fight poverty, but our people became poorer than ever before. (Some big shots defeated their own "poverty", of course, and became very wealthy). The idea is to fight ignorance. The President must, first and foremost, strive to educate our people. It is ignorance, gullibility and the propensity to be cozened, bribed, or cowed by force that keep our people in servitude and chains. An educated citizenry knows its rights and duties, and therefore forges forward to prosperity.

There is no magic formula. GMA must acquire the magic, however, of leadership, toughness, courage, determination, and persistence. What is she today? Is she the Biblical "reed shaken in the wind", or a pillar of flame leading us resolutely through the darkness to the Promised Land?

I'm a hopeless romantic, perhaps. But God bestows, I firmly believe, on leaders who dare the wisdom, fortitude and ability to inspire that will guide them to the summit, surrounded by a host of mighty Angels for their protection. Manuel Quezon, for all his faults and conceits, had such a gift, as had Ramon Magsaysay, although he didn't have enough time (before his death on a mountaintop in Cebu) to complete his pilgrimage.

GMA has been given a magnificent challenge. Let her forget the year 2004. To be a great President in the next two years, and in that period alone, is all that matters. She must not seek any reward or gratitude for her stewardship of the highest position within the gift of the Filipino nation. Attaining the Presidency is, by itself, the guerdon she has already gained. Let her, then, acquit herself nobly and well in that sacred trust.

This is a moment in history that may never come for her again.

THE ROVING EYE . . . One of the luckiest men in the world at this time is Secretary Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez of the Department of Transportation and Communications. We had breakfast yesterday, and he told me, with a tremor in his voice, that his wife Emily, their three daughters and their son, a young boy, had been scheduled to spend the weekend in Dos Palmas island resort. Last Friday morning, at the very last minute, he had cancelled their airplane flight and their reservations in the Palawan resort and sent them to Boracay instead. Bebot, who is the former congressman from Davao del Norte, had suddenly been struck by the thought last Friday that the island resort was "unknown" to them, so he, on the spur of the moment, diverted his family to Boracay. What a coup it would have been for the Abu Sayyaf to have kidnapped the family of a Cabinet member of such prominence and influence! . . . It's clear, from the embarrassment caused by the Abu raid, that our military and Coast Guard haven't the equipment they need to protect our citizenry. Alvarez, since the Coast Guard is under the DOTC, pledges to mobilize funds and grants to upgrade Coast Guard capability. The President and our "politicians" must, once and for all, provide a budget for our Philippine Navy that will enable it to patrol our waters and seize pirates, bandits, rebels, and foreign intruders who ply our seas. What about the fast patrol craft we've been yakking about for years? Our sailors and soldiers have the guts and the glory, but not the machines . . . Indeed, "piracy" has been on the rise in nearby waters, including the most dangerous but most vital sealanes of all, the Straits of Malacca. There have been wire reports on an epidemic of attacks between the Indonesian island of Sumatra on one side and Malaysia and Singapore on the other. A third of the 68 pirate attacks reported during the first three months of this year were off the Indonesian archipelago of 13,000 islands. This is according to the International Maritime Bureau, the Malaysia-based watchdog group. Pirate attacks, this agency said, reached an all-time high of 269 last year (Year 2000), up 60 percent from the previous year. More than a third of the world’s ocean trade, the Associated Press reported two weeks ago, passes through our Southeast Asian waters, including those off Palawan. This includes the Straits of Malacca and other shipping lanes that lie along the coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines, "both poor and rife with turmoil," AP said. Entire cargo ships are being blocked, boarded and ransacked by those pirates, the dispatch added . . . The PAF’s search for the "escape" boats of the Abus (who have apparently split up into three groups) is hampered by our lack of proper aircraft. We must get the Air Force speedier planes, equipped with night-flying and night-detection equipment, maritime patrol capabilities, and enough weaponry to cope with any situation. As it is, the PAF 570 Composite Tactical Wing (based in the Palawan area) and the 3rd Tactical Wing based in the Edwin Anderson air base in Zamboanga are involved in the search, but they lack the aircraft (even with their outdated Nomads, S-211s, and two OV-10s). The Western Command under Admiral Rodolfo Rabago is in over-all command, but PAF Commanding General Benjamin Defensor and Southcom Commander, General Greg Camiling are also collaborating on the spot . . . It’s good that the President has placed a P100-million "bounty" on the heads of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. This means: No ransom, but a price on the heads of the bandits. Money talks in that part of the world. But let’s not sit back and wait for cupidity or avarice to do what should be done: We must zap the pirates where they are – and where they came from, too. In the strife-torn south, only the Lex Talionis seems to prevail: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth! Peaceful negotiations? Rubbish. The Abus offer only one peace: That of the grave.

May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, Now Estrada wants ‘resthouse arrest’, by Jose Rodel Clapano,

Unhappy with "bungalow arrest" at Fort Sto. Domingo and depressed by "hospital arrest" at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, jailed former President Joseph Estrada now wants "resthouse arrest" as befits his previous exalted position.

But contrary to his detractors’ malicious suggestions that he be placed under "resort arrest" somewhere in Sulu, the former president wants to be incarcerated at the family resthouse in Tanay, Rizal.

In a six-page manifestation, Estrada’s lawyer Rene Saguisag asked the Sandiganbayan to allow Estrada to be detained in his Tanay resthouse while the court's third division is resolving their earlier motion for house arrest at his posh North Greenhills subdivision mansion.

Saguisag filed the motion before the anti-graft court as he expressed appreciation of the suggestion of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. that Estrada be detained at his ancestral home in Pagsanjan, Laguna.

However, Saguisag said Laguna was too far from the Sandiganbayan courtrooms in Quezon City and would hamper Estrada’s lawyers from communicating with the ousted president effectively.

Police arrested Estrada and his son Jinggoy on April 25 on charges of economic plunder, one of eight corruption charges filed against them by the Ombudsman.

"A transfer (to the Tanay resthouse), even if temporary, should alleviate the condition of those assigned to secure him, who are scattered all over the grounds of the Veterans hospital, sleeping on hammocks," Saguisag said in his motion.

Saguisag said the Tanay resthouse even has barracks which can be used by Estrada’s security detail, just like at Fort Sto. Domingo which is a training facility for police’s Special Action Force (SAF).

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is just awaiting the conclusion of medical tests on Estrada and his son Jinggoy before airlifting them back to Fort Sto. Domingo where the government built a special detention bungalow for the former president.

"If no reason remains for the Estradas to continue their hospital arrest status after completion of their medical examination, they may be moved to nearer Tanay, instead of Fort Sto. Domingo," Saguisag said.

He said that placing the Estradas under "resthouse arrest" in Tanay will also provide them the fresh air they need aside from normalizing the situation at the Veterans hospital "where even the tempo of the game of golfers has reportedly been disrupted."

"The use of their own house means government need not spend a single centavo of taxpayers’ money for construction and upkeep while they continue not to have freedom of movement, which is the point, even if they will have a wider cage in which to roam," he added.

Saguisag said the Army training facility, Camp Capinpin, is just across Estrada’s resthouse "and by definition should be as secure as any place without causing too much disruption and expense and distorting the image of the hospital that looks like a war or militarized zone to some excitable observers."

The Sandiganbayan’s fourth division ordered Philippine National Police chief Director General Leandro Mendoza yesterday to present the ex-president in court on May 31 at 8:30 a.m. for arraignment and pre-trial of perjury charges.

Meanwhile, Jinggoy urged the third division to resolve his "very urgent omnibus motion" to be excluded from the plunder charges.

"It bears repeating that there are no allegations in the amended information implicating Jinggoy in the overt or criminal acts alleged," Jinggoy told the court through his lawyer Jose Flaminiano.

Flaminiano said Jinggoy, the outgoing mayor of San Juan, has been unable to perform his duties as mayor since he was arrested.

"His third and last term as Mayor will end on June 30. He has to prepare for an orderly turnover of his office to his successor. He has to secure clearances from various offices and this process may take several days to complete. The pending (motion) is now ripe for resolution," Flaminiano said.

May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, P100-M bounty offered for capture of bandits: Sayyaf slips through naval blockade,

This time there will be no negotiations and no million-dollar ransom payments.

Instead the government dangled a P100-million bounty yesterday for the capture of the Abu Sayyaf bandits who seized 20 people during a lightning raid on an upscale resort in Palawan at dawn last Sunday.

"This has got to stop," President Arroyo said in a nationally televised address last night, shortly after presiding over an emergency meeting at Malacanang of the Cabinet's Cluster E on defense and national security.

She demanded the hostages' unconditional release, promising Abu Sayyaf members a reward if they turned in their leaders and urging the members to surrender.

"If you think you can get ransom, you are mistaken," she told the bandits. "You can run but you can't hide I will meet force with force. I will end what you started."

She ordered the Department of Budget and Management to set aside P100 million as bounty for the bandit's arrest, offering P5 million per Abu Sayyaf commander and P1 million per member.

The bandits appeared to have breached a naval blockade of an isolated island in the Sulu Sea under cover of darkness when military planes suspended reconnaissance flights late Sunday.

The Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group claimed responsibility for the raid on Dos Palmas resort where the 17 guests, among them three Americans, and three resort workers were snatched and shanghaied to Mindanao.

Also yesterday, the President mobilized the entire military and the police to track down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages.

The mass abduction once more caught international attention and triggered widespread uproar and sent the local tourism industry into a tailspin.

The Navy sent 10 of its vessels to cut off sea lanes in the Sulu Sea and prevent any further advance by the bandits toward their southern stronghold of Jolo, Sulu and nearby islands.

The military said local officials of Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi, also known as Mapun, reported that the gunmen and their captives landed ashore overnight after sailing all day across the 480-kilometer expanse of sea from Dos Palmas in Arrecifi island at Honda Bay off Puerto Princesa City.

However, an Abu Sayyaf spokesman told a Mindanao radio network that the hostages have been split into two groups and taken to the Basilan and Sulu islands in Southern Mindanao.

"We have the three Americans. If you want to negotiate, it's up to you. We're not pushing for it," he said.

Martin Burnham, one of the three American hostages, also went on radio to becalm relatives.

"We are safe and we are appealing for peaceful negotiations. They are treating us well," said Burnham, a native of Wichita, Kansas and member of the New Tribes Missionary.

It was the first contact with the kidnappers and the victims since the dawn raid on Dos Palmas resort by about 20 heavily armed men who casually walked into the facility.

As some of them held the staff members at gunpoint in a pavilion, the others barged into the cottages, roused the guests from sleep, then herded them into a speedboat known locally as kumpit.

The two other Americans were Burnham's wife Gracia and Guillermo Sobero.

The other victims were identified as Janice Ong Go, Luis Bautista III, Lalaine Chua, Kimberly Jao, Letty Jao, Luis Raul de Guzman Recio, Angie Montealegre, Divine Montealegre, RJ Recio, Francis Ganzon, Teresa Ganzon, Regis Romero, Ma. Riza Rodriguez Santos, Maria Fe Rosadeno, Sonny Dacquer, Armando Bayona and Eldren Morales.

The military launched massive air and sea search that yielded several suspected sightings, including one made late Sunday that indicated the bandits had abandoned their escape boat and split up into three faster vessels.

Army Col. Danilo Servando, spokesman for the military's Southern Command (Southcom) based in Zamboanga City, said the boats took evasive maneuvers when a pair of Nomad surveillance planes approached.

We did it, Sabaya says

"We are admitting it, we are the ones who did it," Sabaya said in a radio interview through the telephone.

In the same interview, Burnham introduced himself: "Hi, I am Mr. Martin Burnham, a US citizen. I am a missionary. I am with my wife. We are in the custody of the Abu Sayyaf under Khaddafi Janjalani. I am safe and unharmed."

Another hostage, Luis Raul de Guzman Recio, expressed hopes the government would not act rashly in a bid to rescue them.

It could not be ascertained where the kidnappers and the hostages were.

Sabaya also admitted having led the raid, adding they kicked off the escape boat three of the hostages because it was overloaded.

The raiders initially captured 23 people, but released three of them. Freed were Manuelita Mondia, Peter Largo and Isagani Fortunado, all chefs of Dos Palmas.

"We did not take them because they were just small fish," Sabaya said.

Sabaya also said his team has taken custody of the three Americans, along with the two Recios, the Ganzons, the Montealegres and Rosadeno.

Those being held by the group of Ghalib Andang alias Commander Robot and Mujib Susukan in Sulu were Go, Chua, Bautista, the two Jaos, Romero, Santos, Dacquer, Bayona and Morales.

Sabaya said they spared the life of American Jeffrey Schilling whom they held for several months in Jolo because the victim was a Muslim convert.

Southcom chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling immediately held a closed-door command conference following the radio interview with Sabaya.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said the Abu Sayyaf bandits were using satellite cellular phones that enabled them to call from anywhere.

Adan also ruled out any negotiations with the kidnappers. "There will be no negotiations. We will fix their location and cordon the area, then launch an assault, but with the safety of the hostages in consideration," he said.

He revealed that a special counter-terrorist group composed of combined elements of the Army, Air Force, Marines and the Navy has been placed on standby to spearhead the rescue operation.

Adan said the bandits were well-armed, and had powered, high-capacity boats that can carry enough passengers.

Camiling ordered the deployment of Task Force Comet under Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez to go after the bandits and intercept them before they reach Jolo.

Southcom spokesman Lt. Col. Danilo Servando said a Navy Nomad plane spotted three vessels near Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi late Sunday afternoon.

The convoy consisted of a gray-colored kumpit with 25 people on board, a fishing boat with thatch roof with four people aboard and a white speedboat manned by two men.

"They were sailing abreast (of each other). The three targets were doing evasive maneuvers whenever the Nomad approached them,"

Servando said, adding residents and local officials of Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi confirmed that three vessels beached in their area by nightfall.

He said the island was immediately sealed by naval vessels, but gave no assurance that the bandits could not sneak through.

The President also directed the mobilization of the military's 300-member Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF) created in late March for the all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf.

ACTAF was composed of elements of special units of the military's major services.

National Security Adviser Roilo Golez played down, however, the Abu Sayyaf menace, saying it did not constitute a threat to national security. "This is purely a police-military operation," he said.

Presidential Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said the President wants to put an early end to the Dos Palmas kidnapping, unlike the Sipadan case which dragged on for several months, only to end with payments of undetermined amount of ransom for the release of local and foreign hostages.

Tiglao said the government was willing to negotiate with the kidnappers, but emphasized that ransom is out of the question.

He said President Arroyo stayed at Malacanang the whole day yesterday to monitor developments in the military operations.

The President also begged off from attending yesterday's wedding of movie actor Aga Muhlach and former beauty queen Charlene Gonzales in Baguio City due to the kidnapping.

She sent instead First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to stand as a principal sponsor in the marriage rites on her behalf.

Mrs. Arroyo declared an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf in early April, but the military said the extremist group which has engaged in high-profile mass kidnapping for ransom has regrouped in the last two weeks.

"The professionalism and precision shown by the abductors point to the Abu Sayyaf group, but we are still verifying this report and trying to determine if Abu Sabaya is really in control of the hostages," Tiglao said.

He reiterated the government’s policy against negotiating with the bandits even as Sabaya has warned that they should not be taken for granted, particularly now that they have three American hostages.

Cash reward set up for info on kidnappers

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) have earlier raised P1 million as reward for any information leading to the capture of the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Interior Secretary Jose Lina unwrapped the bounty during a visit to Palawan to personally coordinate government operations regarding the abductions.

"We are now finalizing the scheme for the reward which will be given to any person who can provide the information on the whereabouts of the abductors," Lina said.

He said the government will treat with the strictest confidentiality the identity of the informant.

Meanwhile, dozens of local and foreign guests of Dos Palmas heaved sighs of relief that they were spared by the kidnappers.

However, 34 other guests hastily packed up and checked out of the resort early yesterday morning. Among them was a French woman doctor assigned with her country's mission in Manila.

She and her husband boarded a helicopter sent to the island by a French frigate on a goodwill mission to the Philippines.

A group of journalists allowed into the restricted area saw deserted white-sand beaches and empty guest cottages, each of which was guarded by soldiers and policemen armed with assault rifles.

Hotel staff prevented the reporters from interviewing guests during their brief guided tour.

Dos Palmas spokesman Allan Fabian said some of the guests did not know what happened on that fateful early Sunday morning.

He insisted there were no cancellation of bookings, including a World Bank delegation due to arrive in the island on May 31.

"We expect occupancy to go down after the raid," Fabian admitted.

He described the raid as "swift and precise" even as the raiders were apparently unfamiliar with the place and had to capture two fishermen to lead them to the resort.

"They struck so fast without any firing of guns. Nobody even knew what happened. We only knew about it 10 minutes later," Fabian said.

Meanwhile, several sectors including the Muslim community in Manila condemned the mass abduction, saying if the perpetrators were Tausugs, they violated the teachings of the holy Koran.

Datu Gulan Ambiong, a leader of the Muslim community in Quiapo, said kidnapping is not an advocacy of Muslim rebel groups. "It is plain banditry. Such criminal act is against the teachings of the holy Koran," he said.

Moro National Liberation Front Nur Misuari said his men never engaged in kidnapping even as they were fighting the government.

The Philippine Tours Association (PHILTOA) urged the government to eliminate bad elements that continue to give the country a bad image before the international community.

PHILTOA president Felix Alegre III said the Dos Palmas incident will certainly have an adverse effect on the local tourism industry.

The Tourism Press Corps (TPC) also expressed grave concern over the fate of the hostages, notably fellow tourism writers Buddy Recio, publisher-editor of Travel Update, his wife Divine Montealegre who was assistant editor of the paper, their eight-year-old son RJ, his sister-in-law Angie, also a writer.

"Kidnapping of innocent civilians for political reasons or for ransom, especially journalists in pursuit of their profession, has no place in civilized society," said TPC president Randy Urlanda.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) tightened security in the country's premier beach resorts nationwide including Boracay in Aklan province.

PNP chief Director General Leandro Mendoza convened their Crisis Management Committee headed by Director Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. to address potential security threats to resort and hotel guests, including staff members. - Paolo Romero, Marichu Villanueva, Christina Mendez, Perseus Echeminada, Mayen Jaymalin, Jaime Laude, Nestor Etolle, Roel Pareno

May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, Another major disaster for the whole country, by Alejandro R. Roces

First, it was the Pearl Farm off Davao City. Now, the Dos Palmas resort at Honda Bay in Palawan. The impression abroad is that piracy is still prevalent in the Philippines. We can just imagine the effect of these on, first, the tourist trade; second, on foreign investors. If foreigners are not safe in the country, how can their investments be safe?

And all these are being committed by a group called the Abu Sayyaf. The government was supposed to have waged an all-out war on the group, but going back to recent developments, they are back on their inter-island kidnapping sprees of foreigners for dollar ransom.

It is true that these are isolated incidents. But as far as our foreign image is concerned abroad, we are a nation that preys on foreigners. True that we have just received Special Nobel Peace Prize award, but people have a short memory. They go by the latest headlines. And lately, we have had nothing but violent incidents to project. The peaceful EDSA II has been overshadowed by the violent EDSA III. And the emphasis was not on the disciplined way our armed forces and police handled the situation with maximum tolerance but the violence perpetuated by the disenchanted poor and provocateurs who were high on drugs.

By definition, piracy is act of depredation committed on the high seas. The acts of depredation on both the Pearl Farm and Dos Palmas were perpetuated on land. But it was the high seas that gave the Abu Sayyaf access to both. The Abu Sayyaf bandits are not interested in getting prisoners. They are interested in getting hostages for ransom. Very soon, the authorities will hear what they are demanding for the release of the foreign hostages they captured in the Pearl Farm and Dos Palmas. It will be the same old story. The government will have to wage another war to rescue the prisoners. Again, some foreign countries may intercede and agree on some form of ransom for the sake of their compatriots being held hostages. But the real casualty is our image abroad. The effect on our tourism trade and our program of attracting foreign investments will be much, much greater than the ransoms demanded. Our problem is to combat poverty. Now, it is how to combat poverty and banditry.

May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, AFP: Vigilantes vs Sayyaf welcome, by Paolo Romero

To win the war against the Abu Sayyaf Islamic fundamentalist group, the Arroyo administration is courting all the help it can get.

Embarrassed by an abduction carried out by the Abu Sayyaf on a Philippine resort, the military welcomed yesterday the participation of vigilantes or private armed groups in an all-out war against the bandits.

President Arroyo also said she may increase the P100- million bounty for the capture of Abu Sayyaf members.

This developed as the government imposed a news blackout on the military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf raiders who snatched 20 people from the upscale Dos Palmas resort at Honda Bay off Puerto Princesa City in Palawan at dawn last Sunday.

Meanwhile, a war of nerves broke out between the government and the kidnappers who threatened to execute all of their 20 hostages amid President Arroyo's warning that the Muslim extremist group would be destroyed if it did not release the captives.

The military doubted reports that the kidnappers, with their hostages in tow, have safely reached their strongholds in Basilan and Sulu.

"We welcome the assistance of (private) armed groups. We are not encouraging vigilantism, but if they could go after the Abu Sayyaf, which is a known enemy of the state, that is a welcome development. They will be rewarded," Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said.

A Malacanang source said the military will mobilize and deploy the militia Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Units to assist the troops in combating the Abu Sayyaf terrorists who style themselves as freedom fighters struggling for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.

But Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said the government must not involve vigilantes in the drive against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists, saying it would only result in more bloodshed.

He said the government must try as much as possible to save the lives of the hostages.

Mrs. Arroyo set the pace for the news blackout by refusing to answer a reporter's questions about her reaction to Sabaya's threat.

"Please understand the sensitivity of the ongoing operations. It is important to employ secrecy to surprise the enemy," Mrs. Arroyo said.

She added that giving the bandits media attention only emboldens them. "That is the psychology of the terrorists...they want to have international acclaim," Mrs. Arroyo said.

She advised journalists against going to Basilan and Sulu provinces which are considered Abu Sayyaf strongholds.

The military also warned reporters covering the hostage drama to take extra precautions if they insist on traveling to Sulu or Basilan.

Mrs. Arroyo clarified that she has not ordered the military to ban journalists from traveling travel to the two island provinces, adding she was merely appealing to the media not to go to Basilan or Sulu "where a war is going on."

Mrs. Arroyo earlier directed the budget department to allocate P100 million as cash reward for the capture of the kidnappers.

She said she may even raise the bounty with her own money just to be sure that the Abu Sayyaf terrorists were annihilated.

She directed Armed Forces chief Gen. Diomedio Villanueva to put up military detachments in each island in Mindanao as defense posts against the bandits.

"We would not encourage you to go to Jolo at this time, but in case you’ll be proceeding, please observe guidelines to ensure your safety," said Adan.

"We hope the incident last year will not be repeated because it adds to the problem," Adan said, referring to last year’s hostage crisis involving 21 mostly foreign hostages who were seized from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan and brought to Jolo where a number of local and foreign journalists who covered the event were captured by the Abu Sayyaf and released upon payment of ransom.

All but one of the hostages were either freed or rescued.

"If we encounter the military and find out they are operating against us, we will kill all the hostages," Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya said in a satellite telephone interview with a Mindanao-based radio station.

Quoting reports of field commanders in Sulu and Basilan, Adan said there were no sightings of the bandits and their hostages in the two provinces, contrary to Sabaya's claim.

"We still believe they're somewhere in the areas from the tip of Palawan to the vicinity of Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi. They are reportedly having difficulty refueling in areas where they are not based," Adan said.

Adan indicated that air and sea search operations for the bandits and their hostages have not yielded positive results.

"Our mission is to rescue the hostages unharmed and to neutralize the kidnappers. The President has ordered us to finish them once and for all," Adan told reporters.

Basilan Rep. Abdulgani Salapuddin said the government should not negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf and vigorously push instead its all-out war against the extremist rebels.

Salapuddin, who was instrumental in the release of 18 high school students who were among a large group of pupils and teachers seized by the Abu Sayyaf from two schools in Basilan after a failed attack on military detachments, indicated that the bandits were only after money and had no political agenda.

Both the Moro National Liberation Front, which has signed a peace accord with the government, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is still waging a secessionist war in Mindanao, have volunteered to help track down the kidnappers.

Government still unsure where Sayyaf gunmen are

Military and police authorities remained unsure where the 20-member Abu Sayyaf band was holed up with its hostages.

Sulu police chief Superintendent Candido Casimiro, citing reports of their civilian informants, said the kidnappers and their captives were sighted in Barangay Sulud Goloba in Panglima Estino town in Sulu at about 10 a.m. yesterday.

Casimiro noted that their information contradicted Sabaya's claim that they have divided the hostages into two groups. One group was reportedly brought to Sulu by an Abu Sayyaf band led by Ghalib Andang alias Commander Robot and Mujib Susukan, while Sabaya's team herded the other group to Basilan.

Casimiro doubted Sabaya's pronouncements, saying he is an "incorrigible liar."

On the other hand, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling, commander of the Armed Forces' Southern Command based in Zamboanga City, said the targets were possibly still holed up in Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi island (also known as Mapun) halfway between Puerto Princesa and Sulu, a 480-kilometer expanse of sea.

Camiling said verification by intelligence agents of the reported sighting in Panglima Estino yielded negative results.

"Based on information from our assets, there is no landing in Basilan and Sulu," Camiling said.

He said they are still trying to pinpoint the whereabouts of the kidnappers and the hostages. "There is no diversion of their movement based on our tracking," he said.

Police in Basilan reported that there has been no reported landing of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers in the island where some 2,000 soldiers have been deployed to intercept the bandits.

A Marine brigade was also dispatched to Tawi-Tawi as a blocking force against the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Camiling said he has requested for additional troops from Luzon who will be immediately flown to Mindanao if the Abu Sayyaf has been found.

For its part, the Philippine Coast Guard intensified its patrol along the country's shorelines to prevent the kidnappers from making beachheads.

PCG Commandant Rear Adm. Ruben Lista dispatched the unit's fast patrol fleet to help the Air Force and the Navy in the search and rescue operations.

In another development, the United States government supported Mrs. Arroyo's no-ransom and no-negotiation policy against the Abu Sayyaf.

US Embassy spokesman Thomas Skipper said their own policy has been to deny any deals with terrorists and not pay any ransom for the release of hostages.

Skipper said talks may be held with the terrorists, but no concessions should be given by the government.

"There is a distinction between making deals and discussions. We are looking at the Philippine government to resolve this," he said. --With reports from Marichu Villanueva, Roel Pareno, Efren Danao, Perseus Echeminada, Aurea Calica, Nestor Etolle, Sandy Araneta

May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, PNP-IG cops violated rules of engagement in Lozada shooting?

The National Bureau of Investigation is confident that it can wrap-up its investigation into the alleged case of "mistaken identity" that resulted in the shooting and death of a hotel executive and a girl last May 17 along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.

Oscar Embido, chief of the NBI's Intelligence and Special Operations Division (ISOD) which was tasked to handle the case, told reporters that all the pieces of the case are now falling into place.

"We will be announcing the results of the investigation within the week," Embido said.

Though it has yet to come out with an official finding, NBI insiders said that evidence at hand point to a violation of the rules of engagement.

It was earlier reported that operatives of the Philippine National Police-Intelligence Group (PNP-IG) were among those who allegedly shot and killed 48-year-old Fernando Lozada and 17-year-old Marian Uson. Wounded in the incident was Lozada’s daughter Clarissa Frances, 17.

PNP chief Director General Lenardo Mendoza met with the families of Lozada and Unson yesterday to allay fears of a whitewash of the case.

"I have assured them that justice will be duly served," Mendoza said. He added that the policemen involved in the shooting have been relieved from their posts and are currently "confined to quarters."

Lozada, chief steward of the New World Hotel, Clarissa and Uson were driving home along Araneta Avenue when their Mitsubishi Lancer car was flagged down by the gunmen, who were on board two parked vehicles.

Lozada must have sensed trouble and sped-off. The suspects fired at their car and pursued them in a high-speed chase up to Maria Clara street in Barangay Sto. Domingo.

There, the gunmen, who were not far behind, again then opened fire, hitting Lozada in the back of the neck. The victims' car then smashed into the gutter.

At this point, the gunmen were not yet satisfied and stopped right in front of the victims’ vehicle and peppered it with bullets. Recovered from the scene were caliber .45 and 9mm slugs and shells.

Investigators of the Central Police District theorized that it could have been a case "mistaken identity." Reports earlier said that the IG elements were conducting a follow-up operation against suspects in the kidnapping of Mark Bacalla, a son of a deceased judge, when the shooting happened.

Reports said the police operatives apparently mistook the victims’ car as that of the suspects’ after a ransom payoff in the area.

The NBI's ISOD had invited 10 members of the PNP-IG for questioning regarding the shooting incident. Embido clarified that contrary to earlier reports, the "mysterious’ Inspector Ye was not among those invited by the NBI for investigation.

Invited by the NBI for questioning were team leader Superintendent Edgar Iglesia and team members Police Officer 1 Frederick Taala, PO1s John Bolatin, Arnold Solas, and Cherrylyn Tundayag; and Chief Inspector James Mejia, Senior Inspector Edwin Portencio, Inspectors Preston Bangandan, Cesar Pangda and Christine Tabdi.

They were supposed to appear at the NBI-ISOD's office yesterday to give their statements to investigators. However, as of press time, they again failed to appear.

Instead, seven more members of the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group appeared to clear their names.

Those who appeared were identified as Chief Inspector Ferdinand Vero, detailed with the CIDG's Office for Business Concerns; Senior Inspector Mafelino Bazar, a Senior Police Officer Madriguera, a Police Officer 3 Bolido, a Police Officer 2 Trambulao, a Police Officer 1 Acedilla and Police Officer 1 Capistrano. -- Mike Frialde and Christina Mendez

May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, Warrants issued vs Dacer slay suspects, by Jose Aravilla,

A Manila court has issued arrest warrants for 22 police officers and civilian agents of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) for the abduction and slaying of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver last November.

Judge Rodolfo Ponferrada of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 41 issued three separate warrants for suspects under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and those still at large.

Ponferrada issued the warrants on May 24, a day after approving the justice department's amendment of criminal information pertaining to the Dacer case. Arraignment has been set for June 11.

"A warrant was requested not only for those at large but also those who surrendered to the CIDG and those in NBI custody. The agencies had no legal binding order to hold them until now," a court source said.

Ordered arrested were Senior Police Officer 4 Marino Soberano, SPO3 Mauro Torres, SPO3 Jose Escalante, Crisostomo Purificacion, Digo de Pedro, Renato Malabanan, Margarito Cuenco and Romel Rollan who are all under the custody of the CIDG. The NBI, on the other hand is holding Jimmy Lopez, William Lopez and Alex Diloy.

Those still at large are Superintendent Glen Dumlao, Chief Inspector Vicente Arnado, Inspector Roberto Langcauon, Inspector Danilo Villanueva, SPO4 Benjamin Taladue, SPO1 Rolando Lacasandile, SPO1 Mario Sarmiento, SPO1 William Reed, SPO1 Ruperto Nemeno and PO2 Thomas Sarmiento.

Among the 22 accused, 13 are lawmen with Dumalo being the highest ranked.

Dante David, lawyer for the accused, earlier said the Manila courts have no jurisdiction over the case since the information sheet filed by the Department of Justice indicated that the murders were carried out in Cavite.

The DOJ was later asked to explain and subsequently filed an amended criminal information.

In issuing the warrants, the court said it was considering "the filing of the amended information which specifies that the act constituting the killing and its aggravating circumstances started in Manila."

Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito were abducted by heavily armed men on Nov. 24 at the corner of Osma highway and Zobel Roxas Street in Manila near the Makati boundary. The two were later executed in Indang, Cavite.

May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, Rivals of Tarlac's Yap spurn his offer of reconciliation by Benjie Villa

TARLAC CITY --Saying it would be like "shaking hands with the devil," leaders of the administration-backed People Power Coalition (PPC) and a local faction of the opposition refused to accept re-elected Gov. Jose Yap Sr.'s offer of reconciliation during the 128th founding anniversary of this home-province of former President Corazon Aquino yesterday.

Instead, the camps of Yap's gubernatorial rivals, Vice Gov. Herminio Aquino of PPC and this city's Mayor Gelacio Manalang of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Third Force (Laban-Third Force), continued to assail Yap and his party, the Sama-Sama sa Tarlac (SST), for allegedly resorting to vote-buying, terrorism and massive disenfranchisement of voters in order to win the May 14 polls.

PPC and Laban-Third Force forged a "tactical alliance" after their more than 250 leaders met with former Rep. Jose "Peping" Cojuangco Jr. inside the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita to map out post-election plans.

Yap and his SST party, on the other hand, have the support of former Marcos crony Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr., estranged cousin of Peping, through his political party, the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC).

"The election is over," said Yap in a statement. "I now call on everybody to set aside politics and unite together for Tarlac's march toward lasting peace, progress and prosperity."

At the same time, Yap said the people must "remain vigilant against sinister forces out to undermine our democratic institutions."

But Vice Gov. Aquino and Manalang said the "sinister political operators" of Yap and SST-NPC, allegedly in connivance with a "syndicate" within the Commission on Elections and the education department, were the ones "who have undermined our democratic institutions when they manipulated the electoral process."

"He (Yap) is just like the devil who can quote verses from the Holy Bible by trying to picture us as the sinister forces," said Manalang. "Accepting his offer of reconciliation would be just like shaking hands with the devil, not to mention that it is also a trap for us to give up the fight against this grand mockery to our democracy."

Manalang said his camp is now consolidating all evidence his coordinators have gathered to prove that there was "massive, systematic fraud," including the alleged disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, during the May 14 polls.

He said his lawyers are set to file a case with the Commission on Elections, seeking the nullification of election results in the province, as well as Yap's proclamation.

Vice Gov. Aquino said the PPC is also gathering evidence against Comelec personnel, teachers and local policemen "who violated election laws" by allegedly becoming instruments of election fraud.

Saying "it will be pointless and useless for us to file an election protest," Aquino said he will instead file criminal charges against Comelec personnel and teachers believed to have been involved in the alleged poll cheating, as well as police officers "who were used to intimidate the people."

The two-day celebration of Tarlac's 128th founding anniversary, which commenced yesterday, was lackluster as fully armed policemen continued to guard the provincial capitol due to the political tension between Yap's camp and that of Vice Gov. Aquino and Manalang.

The affair's theme is "Sama-Sama sa Pagsulong," obviously derived from the name of Yap's party and Danding's popular slogan during the Marcos regime, "Bawat Oras, Sama-Sama (BOSS)."

May 29, 2001, Philippine Star, US issues travel ban in South, by Aurea Calica

The US warned Americans yesterday against traveling to southern and western areas of Mindanao and urged "great caution" in planning travel to other parts of the island and the Palawan archipelago.

The US State Department issued the travel advisory a day after three Americans were kidnapped along with 17 Filipino tourists and workers in a plush resort off Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

Authorities identified the American nationals as missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero who were snatched at the Dos Palmas resort on Arrecife Island in Honda Bay.

The advisory warned Americans "to avoid all travel" to southern and western Mindanao, which covers the Zamboanga provinces and the nearby islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Also included in the advisory are the areas of the Davao provinces, where armed men raided on May 22 the popular resort Barcelo Pearl Farm on Samal island off Davao City, killing two people and wounding three others.

The armed men who raided the Palawan and Davao resorts are suspected to be members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group which kidnapped 21 tourists in a Malaysian island resort last year.

"There is concern that the (Abu Sayyaf group) or other groups may take additional actions against US citizens and other foreigners. Americans should exercise great caution when considering travel to resorts on Mindanao and Palawan," the advisory read.

The United Kingdom also issued an advisory against travel to southern and western Mindanao.

"There has been an increase in kidnapping throughout the Philippines including Manila and popular Philippine beach resorts. We strongly advise against all travel to southern and western Mindanao," read the British travel advisory.

The Swedish embassy likewise advised its citizens to be extra cautious when traveling to resorts in Palawan as well as southern and western Mindanao.

"They are taking civilians who haven’t done anything. The tourists come here because of their love for this country. This is a beautiful country. These (terrorist) actions have to be taken care of. This should be heavily condemned by everyone," said Swedish Ambassador Ulf Hakkanson.

The Chinese embassy also said it was an unfortunate incident and expressed hopes the government would take measures that could solve the problem soonest.

"We express our concern for the safety of the hostages," said Chinese embassy spokesperson Wang Luo.

Airline executives from Taiwan and Hong Kong disclosed that their governments have also issued travel advisories warning their nationals against traveling to Mindanao.

While their advisory did not advise against travel to the Philippines, Taiwanese already in the country were warned to confine their stay in the Metro Manila area.

The French embassy has yet to issue a formal travel advisory but asked its nationals to "be reasonably prudent" and find out the security situation in areas that they are planning to visit.

"We are aware of the risks for the tourists to be in resorts. We are concerned about it but we are confident the Philippines can solve this problem," the embassy said.

The Japanese embassy has a standing travel advisory because of previous security-related incidents involving their nationals in Metro Manila and Mindanao.

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Franklin Ebdalin said tourism will likely suffer a significant drop in the coming months because of threats to peace and security.

But Ebdalin said the foreign office would instruct all its overseas missions to explain to the international community that these are isolated incidents.--With Rey Arquiza

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