Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sun Star Caches

September 22, 2000, Sun Star Davao, PBSP study sees emergence of second, poorer Mindanao, by Charles Raymond A. Maxey, Page: 6
September 24, 2000, Sun Star, Shoreline residents urged to look out for Abu bandits, by Allan Nawal,
September 29, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Are top Sayyaf leaders dead? , by Noralyn Mustafa and Alexander Young,
October 6, 2000, Sun Star Davao, War in Mindanao soon to end: Erap, by Charles Raymond A. Maxey,
October 7, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Traders hail Erap visit,
October 9, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Air, seaports alerted to fleeing Sayyaf rebels, by Rudy Genteroy,
October 10, 2000, Sun Star Davao, ARMM projects continue amid military operations,
October 25, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Military reduces troopers in Sulu, by Bong Garcia,
October 27, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Rescued Malaysians presented to Erap,
November 9, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Rescue troopers face questionable circumstances, by Bong Garcia,
November 11, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Davao's tourism industry down but not beaten: Data,
November 12, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf rebs yield to army, by Bong Garcia,
November 14, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf threatens Basilan, by Bong Garcia,
November 15, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, MILF abducts six coco workers,
November 15, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga ,Schilling is very sick, by Bong Garcia,
Diigo, November 16 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf suffers more casualties, by Bong Garcia,
November 17, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Gov't to sequester Sayyaf assets, by Bong Garcia Jr.,
November 17, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, 1 Sayyaf bandits yield to military, by Bong Garcia,
November 19, 2000 Sun Star Davao, Ransom divides Robot s followers [No cache copy available: Why?]
November 20, 2000, Sun Star Cagayan, Bomb rips 2 houses; four injured, by Lito M. Rulona and Maricel B. Casiño,
Diigo, November 21, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf releases teacher, kids, by Bong Garcia,
November 23, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, 'Robot,' Susukan part ways, by Bong Garcia
December 4, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Military finds 15 bodies in mass grave, by Bong Garcia,
January 31, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Soldier, 10 Sayyafs die in Jolo clash,
March 14, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Additional troops requested to help pursue the Abu Sayaff, by Bong Garcia,
March 15, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Military-Sayyaf clash anew; 3 killed, by Bong Garcia,
April 26, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, 14 militiamen die in clash with Abu, by Bong Garcia,
May 29, 2001, Sun Star, Sayyaf owns abduction of 20 tourists,
May 30, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf not yet in Basilan, Sulu: military,
Diigo, June 11, 2001, Sun Star, Abu Sayyaf burns church seizes more hostages,Diigo, June 11, 2001, Sun Star Davao, MNLF clash with Sayyaf bandits,
June 13, 2001, Sun Star Davao, School doesn't have rooms, teachers for 600 students,
June 25, 2001, Sun Star, Sobero is still alive: MILF,
Diigo, July 16, 2001, Sun Star, Tough stance vs. Sayyaf to woo investors: Arroyo,
Diigo, July 19, 2001, Sun Star, Sayyaf mass base support collapses,
July 26, 2001, Sun Star Cagayan, Abu problem affects R-10 tourism: Neda, by Terry C. Betonio,
Diigo, July 27, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Abu Sayyaf gains from inquiry, by Bong Garcia Jr.
November 26, 2001, Sun Star, Gov't probes Misuari link to Sipadan hostage crisis,
April 1, 2002, Sun Star Davao, Investors eye Samal Casino Resort, but...,
Diigo, November 14, 2002, Sun Star, Sayyaf demands P16M for 7 hostages,
Diigo, July 7, 2005, Sunstar, Army scours Maguindanao for Janjalani, Abu Sayyaf, by Ben O. Tesiorna,
September 1, 2005, Sun Star, Official: Mindanao like a 'terrorist academy',

December 14, 2008, Sun Star, 3 killed, 3 snatched in Basilan attack
December 15, 2008, Sun Star Davao, MILF agrees to end use of kids in war
December 15, 2008, Sun Star Davao, MILF pooh-poohs gov't peace talks statements
December 15, 2008, Sun Star Davao, Trial of policeman in kidnap case reset, by Carlo P. Mallo,
December 18, 2008, Sun Star, 4 Abu Sayyaf bandits convicted,


September 22, 2000, Sun Star Davao, PBSP study sees emergence of second, poorer Mindanao, by Charles Raymond A. Maxey, Page: 6

Amid the boastful pronouncements of government that it will improve the quality of life in Mindanao, poverty still hounds the region so bad that one would think Mindanaoans are a forgotten people.

Based on a recent study conducted by a private sector, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), poverty incidence in Mindanao remains the highest in all island groups with its Human Development Index (HDI) falling below the national standards.

But the PBSP has a more alarming discovery: there is now an emerging second and much poorer Mindanao involving parts of the Special Zone for Peace and Development (SZopad) and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The study showed that Armm has the highest percentage of poor people with 58.60 percent of its population living below the region's annual per capita threshold.

Other daunting figures about Armm is that its life expectancy is lower than the national average by at least 12 years; the infant mortality rate (63 per 1,000) is higher than the national (49) and Mindanao (56.4) averages; and its functional literacy rate remains at a low 61.20 percent.

The Sulu province has an HDI rating of only 0.331.

Region 12 posted the second highest poverty incidence at 50 percent and Region 9, 40.1 percent.

The PBSP said the factors that made these areas as the "2nd Mindanao" are government's poor delivery of basic services, absence of effective solutions to the grievances of the Muslim and indigenous people, land security and the biases and prejudices among Christians and Muslims.

Close to half of Mindanao's population (44 percent), the study showed, live below the poverty line.

Paul G. Dominguez, PBSP Chair of the Mindanao Board, also attributed the sad state of Mindanao to the lack of investment on the part of the national government to these areas and the Mindanao conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf, he said, is also making it difficult for government to immediately address the problem.

"Fighting became a major limiting factor," he said.

Alarmed by this grim scenario, PBSP is coming up with its so-called "Catch-up Plan" for Mindanao which is envisioned to bring living standards in the poorer provinces in Armm and SZopad areas.

Dominguez said PBSP hopes to get the support of the business sector and other non-government organizations (NGOs) in undertaking this plan.

"We hope to mobilize the business sector," he said.

PBSP, through this formula, aims to raise family income, the educational system and give basic social services to the people living in the depressed areas.

"We will ask individual companies to work for us," Dominguez said. "We will work with local partners and business groups."

The PBSP had so far undertaken five projects to uplift the lives of people in Mindanao. These are the Literacy Project (in Jolo and Patikul, Sulu), Community Health Volunteers Development Project (Zamboanga City), Capacity Building for Governance Project (Midsayap, Pigcawayan and Libungan, North Cotabato), Integration of Peace Education in School Curriculum (Ateneo de Zamboanga) and Productivity Enhancement and Reconstruction Project (Cotabato).

The PBSP invested P1.6 million for these projects which will benefit some 10,000 households.

Dominguez said they have initially raised an amount of P10 million to implement projects for social development in Mindanao.

"We are using first our own resources," he said.

September 24, 2000, Sun Star, Shoreline residents urged to look out for Abu bandits, by Allan Nawal,

DIGOS CITY -- Senior Supt. Wilfredo Fuentes Saturday called on residents of shoreline villages to help monitor the alleged presence of Abu Sayyaf bandits here who managed to sneak out of the military cordon in Jolo. Fuentes made the appeal as he admitted that the police lacks the capability to fully safeguard the province's shoreline from possible intrusion.

"The police could not do it alone (monitor). The people should help us and report whatever suspicious development in their locality," he said. Earlier, Abu Sayyaf rebels have allegedly landed in Sarangani Island, a part of Davao del Sur sometime last week.

Fuentes said although the police has not verified such information, it is important to know whether this is true or not. "But as I have said, the people should help us," he said. As this developed, Fuentes said there is a possibility that MILF rebels engaged in hostilities with government troops in Baracatan, Toril in nearby Davao City might seek refuge in the province.

But he said police entrapment were already set, if in case, they run here to flee the military operations.

September 29, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Are top Sayyaf leaders dead? by Noralyn Mustafa and Alexander Young, DEAD or alive?

Conflicting reports emerged yesterday on the condition of three major Abu Sayyaf leaders: Radulan Sajiron, the one-armed bandit and "chief of staff"; Galib Andang, alias Commander Robot; and Mujib Susukan, the pony-tailed "provincial leader." Sajiron died of wounds sustained during a clash with government troops in the Patikul area last week, Maj. Alberto Gepilano, a military spokesperson in Sulu, announced on local radio yesterday.

A police statement released in Manila also confirmed that Sajiron, also known as Commander Putol, had "died due to loss of blood from (a) wound on his leg (sustained) during an encounter with government troops." But a government source in Jolo quoted intelligence reports from the field as saying that Sajiron is alive, well and in a camp in Luuk town with some 300 fully armed followers.

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado earlier said that authorities were checking reports that the Abu Sayyaf leader was dead. "We are sure that Radulan Sajiron has been wounded," Mercado said in a radio interview, although he added that Southern Command authorities "are refusing to declare him dead unless they see his corpse." Andang and Susukan have also been reported injured in the military operation to rescue 17 hostages and destroy the kidnapping group.

"We also have information that Commander Robot has been wounded," Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Generoso Senga said in another radio interview. Senga said the nature and extent of his injuries had yet to be determined. But the INQUIRER source also disputed the report that Andang was wounded, saying that the Abu Sayyaf "striking force chief" was last seen on Mt. Tumamangis and was reportedly leading some 300 followers back to their original hideout in Bandang, Talipao.

Susukan has wounds on his arm and leg, according to Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, who based his information on accounts from civilians who have seen the fleeing gunmen.

With P100M and 370 men

But the INQUIRER source said that Susukan had fled to a coastal village in Zamboanga del Sur, bringing with him around P100 million and around 370 armed men. Susukan had boarded a speedboat and slipped through a naval cordon around Jolo Island, the source said. The Abu Sayyaf leader was helped by a relative in Zamboanga, he added.

The police report also said some of the followers of Andang had escaped the naval blockade to flee to Tawi-Tawi to the south. However, it did not say if Andang was with them. Military intelligence reports also said that on Sept. 24, the group of Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Sabaya tried to escape by boat from Luuk town but failed because the boat broke down.

Sajiron joined forces with Abu Sayyaf head Khaddafy Janjalani and Abu Sabaya at the start of the military assault. The source said the two groups had a combined force of 500 men.

Schilling may be charged

Sajiron, Andang and Susukan are among around a dozen leaders of the Abu Sayyaf. Andang and Susukan's factions jointly hold 12 Filipino preachers in central Jolo while Sajiron's group holds a Filipino who was among the hostages abducted from Sipadan in Malaysia in April.

Janjalani's faction holds Schilling while a fourth group holds three Malaysians seized across the border less than three weeks ago. Schilling, according to Press Secretary Ricardo Puno, is in danger of facing Philippine courts if he is rescued from his captors.

The government plans to prosecute Schilling on criminal charges if it finds evidence that the American was in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf, Puno told reporters in Malacañang yesterday. He made the statement amid reports that the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force had found evidence that the 24-year-old American had been working with the Abu Sayyaf.

The kidnappers had earlier claimed that Schilling, a Muslim convert married to a cousin of Sabaya's, was involved in a plan to purchase weapons and equipment for the group. His mother has denied that her son was ever a gunrunner.

No mob rule

Military intelligence reports in Manila said Abu Sayyaf members had been seen in Jolo disguised as robed members of the tabligh, an Islamic pro-peace movement with an estimated 300,000 members in Mindanao.

A number of bandits have reportedly sought refuge among the civilian population. A clash erupted late Tuesday when villagers tried to prevent an Abu Sayyaf group from hiding in a cave in the village. Three gunmen and three civilians died in the clash.

Following press reports of those deaths, Malacañang said it would not allow "mob rule" to reign in Sulu, although it also admitted it would have difficulty monitoring violations.

Evacuees: Go home

The military yesterday asked some of the nearly 63,000 people displaced by the massive offensive to return home. The residents would be returning to areas "cleared" of the Abu Sayyaf, a military official in Sulu said on the 13th day of the barrage. Residents of Patikul and Indanan towns may "go back to their respective places," Gepilano said over radio.

Government relief workers said that 62,900 people, or more than 16 percent of the population of Jolo Island, had been displaced since President Estrada sent in more than 4,000 troops on Sept. 16. Gepilano admitted that some houses were destroyed in the military operation, but insisted that these were owned by Abu Sayyaf members.

The bulk of the campaign had focused on six Jolo towns. The Abu Sayyaf strongholds of Talipao, Maimbung, Panamao and Luuk remain off-limits to civilians.

News ban lifted

Gepilano said Jolo fishermen have also been allowed to resume fishing, provided they carried a written clearance from the military task force and the registration papers of their vessels. The media and transportation ban in Jolo will be lifted starting today, according to Senga.

Senga told a press conference in Zamboanga City that all commercial shipping and cargo vessels could resume their regular operations. Reporters staked out in Zamboanga will soon be allowed into Sulu to cover the military offensive, provided they adhere to certain restrictions and security arrangements, other officials said.

Ready to kill them all

Another military spokesperson in Sulu, Col. Susulan Salapuddin, said civilians should not be afraid of the military, amid reports of rights abuses, including allegations of killings of Abu Sayyaf sympathizers. "They won't hurt you if you have not done anything wrong," he said in an interview aired by station dxMM. "We know who the Abu Sayyaf members are," he added.

Salapuddin warned the Abu Sayyaf, estimated to have about 400 core members and thousands of new members attracted by the prospect of sharing large ransoms, to surrender now "while you still have a chance to do so." "Otherwise" Agence France Presse quoted him as saying, "we will kill you all." In Manila, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the Senate national defense committee, said the military operation would not have lasted this long if the military had deployed 20 and not 10 battalions two weeks ago. A battalion is composed of at least 500 men.

Bishops question assault

Senga said 111 Abu Sayyaf members have been killed and 49 others captured in the operation. The day before, Biazon said he had received military intelligence information that the military had nabbed more than 70 gunmen, who were undergoing interrogation.

Government casualties have been listed as two soldiers and three civilian informers dead and 11 soldiers, policemen and informers wounded. Church leaders yesterday again questioned the military operation, although they had endorsed it in the beginning. Extensive use of artillery and bomber planes, together with blockades curbing the movement of civilians and merchandise, have "raised questions on the actual objectives of the military operation," the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Orlando Quevedo said in a statement.

US: No 3rd parties

Echoing earlier statements, the US Embassy in Manila yesterday ruled out third-nation participation in efforts to free Schilling, saying that the United States preferred to support the Philippine government's handling of the hostage crisis.

Libyan Ambassador to Manila Salem Adam, for his part, said there was no request for Libyan involvement, unlike in the case of the former 21 Sipadan hostages. With reports from Jonathan F. Ma, PDI Mindanao Bureau; Donna Cueto, Armand Nocum, Carlito Pablo, Dona Pazzibugan in Manila; AFP

BCG Comprehensive action to solve Minda problem.txt
... N7 Author: Source: Sun Star Davao Date Published: 10/05/00 Starting Page: ... to meet its self-imposed deadline to crush the extremist Abu Sayyaf three to six
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October 6, 2000, Sun Star Davao, War in Mindanao soon to end: Erap, by Charles Raymond A. Maxey,

• Adds MILF manpower reduced by 40% while equipment reduced reduced by 26%

• 'The Abu Sayyaf...shall soon catch up with the law,' he says

President Joseph Estrada yesterday beamed with optimism that the military operations against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf in some parts of Mindanao will soon be over. "The MILF has already been reduced to a guerrilla group incapable of neither threatening nor launching massive attacks against our communities," Mr. Estrada said during the 4th Mindanao Coordinating Council meeting at Mercure Grand Hotel, here in Davao city, last night.

He did not state a definite date or period. The Armed Forces, he added, has reduced the manpower and equipment of the MILF by about 40 percent and 26 percent respectively.

The President also did not consider the Abu Sayyaf bandits as a threat as its forces are believed to have been weakened due to massive military operations against them. "The Abu Sayyaf has also been reduced to a splinter group on the run, a group that shall soon catch up with the law," he reiterated.

He argued that his administration's all out war policy is aimed to contain trouble in the country perpetrated by any group. "I will never allow any group to dismember our country," he added. Estrada arrived yesterday afternoon here from Cagayan de Oro City where he presided over the formal surrender of 609 MILF rebels.

Emergency assistance in the amount of P1.3 million or P2,500 per rebel has been released to the returnees. The government, he said, also released P5.4 million for capital assistance to former rebel cooperatives.

"I am hopeful that our actions will lead to permanent peace to Mindanao. It is only with peace that we can bring long term development to Mindanao," he said.

Meanwhile, the President said the rehabilitation of Mindanao is now being fasttracked with the repairs and rebuilding of damaged schools and other infrastructures hit by the armed conflict in Central Mindanao.

He said he was recently informed that of 213 evacuation centers where 45,544 families were billeted from the start of the conflict, only 101 evacuation centers are now operating with 13,709 families. "Only 30 percent of the refugees are left in these evacuation centers," he said.

The President was being updated during the MCC meeting by Davao Integrated Development Program, Zambas Rural Infrastruture Development Program, Socksargen Area Development Program and the Economic Recovery for Agriculture and Forestry in Caraga on the status of their respective projects in their areas.

The MCC meeting, the President said, was important and timely as it was held when the government was at the favorable position against the terrorist group and the Muslim rebels.

"It comes at a favorable time when we are in the midst of victory of winning the war not only against the secessionist MILF but also the lawless Abu Sayyaf," Mr. Estrada said.

October 7, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Traders hail Erap visit,

Mindanao Business Council (MBC) chair Joji Ilagan Bian the other day said she sees an improved economy with the latest visit of President Joseph Estrada to Mindanao.

Bian said: "I am happy about President's visit as this shows a renewed signal and a commitment of prioritizing Mindanao."

She said the business community expects President Estrada's visit to fast- track the rehabilitation of areas affected by clashes between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf.

She said the visit restored confidence of businessmen as it shows a strong signal that Mindanao will get the attention it rightfully deserves.

The MBC head also expressed the business community's readiness to work hand in hand with government.

Bian said the business community and non-government organizations are just waiting to be consulted or provided with opportunities to participate.

President Estrada, who convened the Mindanao Coordinating Council at the Mercure Grand Hotel the other night, promised fresh funds for the island's relief and rehabilitation.

The meeting was well attended with most local government officials around together with cabinet officials which included Defense Sec. Orlando Mercado, Interior Sec. Alfredo Lim, Health Sec. Alberto Romualdez, Agriculture Sec. Edgardo Angara, Public Works and Highways Sec. Gregorio Vigilar, Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno and PNP chief Panfilo Lacson.

October 9, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Air, seaports alerted to fleeing Sayyaf rebels, by Rudy Genteroy,

MANILA -- Immigration Commissioner Rufus Rodriguez Sunday placed Immigration officers throughout the country, particularly at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, on double alert and ordered them to be on the lookout for fleeing Abu Sayyaf leaders.

The order was issued after reports came out that Ghalib Andang alias "Commander Robot," Munjib Susukan, Wahab Upao and Kair Abdulgaffar were planning to sneak out of the country through any of the international airport and seaport.

BI deputy chief for Airport Intelligence Operations Tom Natividad said the order was issued after Rodriguez received intelligence reports that the Muslim rebels were in possession of stolen Philippine and fake foreign passports bought as part of their plan to leave the country.

The reports alleged that Anding and his followers would try to evade the military and its all-out offensive against the bandit group in Mindanao. Intelligence reports further indicated that the rebels would first try to reach either Malaysia or Indonesia before proceeding, via connecting flights, to the Middle East.

The Muslim terrorists would then seek asylum in an Arab country sympathetic to their cause, the reports noted. "Commander Robot (Andang) and his men are not interested anymore in holding their remaining hostages. They are now concentrating on their escape, fearing for their lives," Natividad claimed. The Muslim bandits still hold five hostages, which include American Jeffrey Schilling, three Malaysians and a Filipino. BI authorities had issued a watch list order while waiting for a hold departure directive against the Abu Sayyaf rebels set to be released this week by the Department of Justice or the courts after charges for kidnapping and serious illegal detention were filed against them.

October 10, 2000,Sun Star Davao,;ARMM projects continue amid military operations,

The government is going full blast with the implementation of its flagship projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to uplift the lives of people in the Armm, amid ongoing military in one of its provinces to  rescue hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf.

Undersecretary Manuel Gaite of the Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects cited, for instance, the Malmar Irrigation Project in Maguindanao which, he said, will benefit primarily the Armm farmers.

The project, which will irrigate 10,000 hectares of farmland, has bee delayed several times in the past, but is now being implemented full blast by the administration of President Joseph Estrada, who has pledge to transform Mindanao into the country’s next food basket.

“Most of the beneficiaries in the area are our Muslim brothers. It’s with more reason that we should continue the project because it will help maintain peace and order in the ARMM,” he said on radio over the weekend.

He noted that the project aims to address the root cause of the Muslim insurgency, which is poverty, by providing the ARMM residents with jobs and means of livelihood. The provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu comprise the Armm.

The Malmar project, Gaite added, is also part of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) led by Nur Misuari, who is now Armm governor.

Gaite said that the government also intends to resume the implementation of projects in Sulu once the military operations to rescue the Abu Sayyaf’s hostages are over. Aside from major infrastructure projects, the government is also building housing units for former MNLF rebels at the Kamadhikahan Village in Sulu and another 120 units in Indanan town near the capital town of Jolo, according to Gaite. He said the implementation of housing projects has been temporarily delayed because of the military operations but is expected to be resumed soon after the military lifts the transport ban in Sulu.

October 25, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Military reduces troopers in Sulu, by Bong Garcia,

The Southern Command has reduced the number of military troopers pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu as peace and order situation in the province had simmered down following the successive surrender of the extremist bandits to the government, a military spokesman said yesterday.

Southern Command spokesman Col. Hilario Atendido said that some of the 5,000 military troopers deployed to rescue the remaining hostages and crush the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu were sent back to their mother units in Central Mindanao and Luzon.
Atendido said that for the past weeks the military pursuit operation in Sulu had been obtaining positive results as the enemy refused to fight the soldiers. They instead decided to surrender. Atendido said since the start of the military offensive in Sulu, a total 89 Abu Sayyaf had surrendered to the military, 122 were captured, 130 were killed in a total of 77 firefights, 75 of which were initiated by the government troops.

The military troops under the Task Force Trident also recovered 600 assorted high-powered firearms and thousands of assorted ammunitions. The military offensive entered its 40th day today. The Abu Sayyaf has been getting weaker day by day, and the morale of our forces gets high as they pursue the bandits who used to evade possible confrontations," Atendido said.

Reports submitted by Task Force Trident chief Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya disclosed that the Abu Sayyaf rebels hole out in the outskirts of Sulu are now suffering from mental and physical stress and hunger due to the relentless military offensive.

"They can run, but they can never always hide, we are after them to the limit," Abaya said. Setting aside the time frame of the offensive, Abaya is optimistic that they will end the offensive before Christmas.

The series of surrenders in the past weeks was a result of the cooperation extended by village officials of the different municipalities of Sulu to the military by helping negotiate for the surrender of the bandits. As this developed, another firefight took place Monday in the outskirts of Talipao town.

A platoon of soldiers from Charlie Company of the 4th Infantry Battalion under Task Group Alpha led by Lt. Gaminda encountered 20 fully-armed Abu Sayyaf rebels led by Commander Nadzmi Saddala in Barangay Bilaan, Talipao. The hour long firefight started around 6:20 a.m. when the enemy withdrew towards Barangay Bilaan, Talipao.

The government troops recovered an M-16 armalite rifle,foodstuff, and personal belongings of the bandits.Blocking forces of the same unit led by LR. Talap also encountered the withdrawing bandits around 8:55 a.m. in Baranagy Tampakan in the same town. No casualties were reported.

October 27, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Rescued Malaysians presented to Erap,

DAVAO CITY -- The three Malaysian hostages rescued by the military last Wednesday were formally presented to President Estrada when he arrived Thursday morning here in Davao City. The Malaysians, who were flown from Zamboanga City, were identified as Mohd Nur Sulaiman, Ken Wee Cheong and Joseph Dioguino, all resident of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

In a brief ceremony, Malaysian Ambassador Arshad Hussain expressed deep appreciation to the President for the rescue of the three Malaysians abducted from the Pandanan Island resort in Malaysia last Sept. 10. "Apart from the Malaysian government, I would also like to convey here to you Mr. President the thanks, appreciation and humble gratitude of three more families in Malaysia whose loved ones will return to home to Sabah shortly," the ambassador said.

The three hostages were rescued last Wednesday morning by elements of Task group Alpha under Col. Romeo Tolentino at the vicinity of Mt. Mahala in Talipao Sulu. The group was held by the Abu Sayyaf faction led by Galib Andang, alias Commander Robot, and composed of around 40 men when chanced upon by the military.

A brief firefight occurred before the Malaysians were rescued. "We were in a forest in Talipao when shots were fired from the military and the bandits. The bandits asked us to follow them and there was a big explosion and we dropped on the ground," one of the hostages recounted.

The three hostages claimed that during their 45 days in captivity, the Abu Sayyaf took good care of them and that they were never harmed. The foot of one of hostage, however, was swollen due to an infection from an insect bite. Except for this, the rescued hostages were given a clean bill of health by the military doctors who examined them.

Mohd Nur Sulaiman said they were always on the run together with their captors since the military were always hot on their trail. He added that they have not slept on a "comfortable" bed ever since their capture and that the forest was their only shelter from the rain.

Despite their grueling experience, Sulaiman admitted that all their captors became his friends. The hostages will take a 2:30 flight to Kota Kinabalu this afternoon and are expected to arrive at 4:30 p.m. on the same day. The hostages said that they were not closing their doors to the possibility that they would visit the Philippines again.

November 9, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Rescue troopers face questionable circumstances, by Bong Garcia,

While waiting for the right time to rescue the two remaining hostages, military troops in pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf bandits on the island province of Sulu are facing "questionable circumstance" in carrying out their mission. Still held captives by the Abu Sayyaf, are Filipino dive instructor Roland Ullah and American Jeffery Schilling, who have been held separately by the bandits.

Joint Task Force Trident chief Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya said that the hostages appeared to have no interest to escape from the Abu Sayyaf "despite the opportunities to do so." Abaya said the latest intelligence report he received from the field was that Ullah was being moved around Patikul town area and that Schilling was frequently transferred from one place to the other in Panamao and Luuk.

"Ullah seems to be free moving around Patikul which gives us reasons to believe that if he exerted effort to escape, he could have," Abaya disclosed. He said they don't have much information as to the fate of Schilling. "It is difficult to rescue due to the questionable circumstances and their situational actuation after the kidnapping," Abaya revealed.

Earlier reports disclosed that Ullah was seen holding a high powered firearm together with some Abu Sayyaf followers. The latest information was that he served as the cook and fetching water for the bandits. " am not saying that," Abaya answered when asked if he had concluded that Ullah has joined the Abu Sayyaf.

Abaya said he believed that they hit Monday the sanctuary of Abu Sayyaf "field marshal" Ghalib "Robot" Andang as the offensive continued. He said seven followers of Andang were killed in the firefight. The bandits' death toll is now 169. But despite this development, Abaya refused to announce a deadline as to when the offensive to crash the bandits will end. Likewise, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes, who was here yesterday, didn't want to set a deadline. "We are working on it," Reyes said as to the rescue of Ullah and Schilling. "I don't want to set deadlines because we are eventually boxed in a tip of a corner the moment we set deadlines." Reyes continued.

Meanwhile, another 15 members of the Abu Sayyaf surrendered Monday to the police in Sulu. The surrenderees were received by Sulu police director Supt. Candido Casimiro Jr., around 10:45 a.m. and turned over four high powered firearms. This brought to a total of 244 bandits who surrendered since the start of the offensive last Sept. 16.

Abaya said more Abu Sayyaf are planning to surrender including those who are holed out in some of the island municipalities of Sulu province. "They have already sent feelers for surrender," he said. With this, he estimated that the Abu Sayyaf has only at least 100 hard core followers who are still on the run in the hinterlands of Sulu.

Index of /Archives/2000/SunStar Davao/November/11
Parent Directory
2 digit unemployment rate for SM worries DoLE.txt
Davao s tourism industry down but not beaten Data.txt
P49 M income seen for dairy farmers.txt
Santos to Lacson Don t use intelligence funds in politics.txt
Traders ask Lacson to abandon Estrada.txt

November 11, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Davao's tourism industry down but not beaten: Data,

Davao City's tourism industry has taken the hardest beating as a result of the peace crisis in Mindanao and the political and economic crisis being experienced by the country. The city's tourism industry lost millions in terms of tourism receipts due to the armed conflict between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as well as the kidnapping activities of the Abu Sayyaf group.

The expected recovery after the Kadayawan festival in August was, however, thwarted by the succeeding political and economic crisis that hounded the whole country. "Davao's tourism industry is down but not beaten," Davao Tourism Association (Data) vice president Renato Gatchalian told Sun.Star Davao yesterday.

The industry, he said, is really suffering and he does not know up to how much the tourism players can actually absorb in terms of losses. Gatchalian admitted they were caught flatfooted by Waterfront Insular Hotel's closure. The 160-room hotel, which has more or less 200 workers, will be closed effective December 6 due to financial losses.

Another world-class hotel, the Ekran Berhad owned Samal Casino, closed down three months earlier also due to losses. Victoria Plaza, the city's first shopping mall, is also set to close down due to losses. "It will be a survival of the fittest among the players in the city's tourism history," he said. However, he added, those who will be left behind and will sustain their businesses will reap great profits once the crisis is over.

Gatchalian said the Davao International Airport will be opened by next year or early 2002. The airport's expansion is expected to bring in more international flights and more foreign tourists to the city. While some establishments are closing down, he said, there are other establishments that are opening up for business.
Among the establishments set to open up this year is "Venue", an entertainment center with investments worth millions which is owned by the Bangayan's. Venue is touted as the country's biggest party address and is expected to bring down even people from Manila who are tired of the political bickerings going on there. Blue Gre', which is owned by Gatchalian, is also set to open up its third branch at the Venue.

"The opening up of these establishments means there are still investors who believe in Davao City," he said. What's phenomenal, he added, is that the new businesses coming in are owned by local investors who are more aware of the city's business climate.

November 12, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf rebs yield to army, by Bong Garcia,

Hours before the 7th Infantry Battalion has strike on another possible hostage harboursite Thursday, three Abu Sayyaf followers had decided to surrender to the military in Jolo, Sulu. This after Southern Command chief, Maj. Gen. Gregorio Camiling has announced Wednesday that the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu will continue even if all the hostages will be rescued.

The Joint Task Force Trident reported that the surrenderees has turned themselves in a detachment of the Naval Intelligence Security detachment around 10:45 a.m. in Jolo, the capital town of Sulu. The report identified the surrenderees as Sari Mustali, Saradon Sahidjani and Sali alihudin, said to be followers of Abu Sayyaf "field marshal" Ghalib "Robot" Andang.

The latest surrender has brought to a total of 227 Abu Sayyaf followers who surrendered since the start of the offensive last Sept. 16. They (surrenderees) turned over a Garand rifle and two M-79 grenade launchers. An Abu Sayyaf follower was killed in a firefight with the troopers of the 7th IB around 1:30 p.m. in Mount Tumantangis, Indanan town. The soldiers also recovered a Garand rifle and 40 rounds of ammunition.

The report said the soldiers have swooped down Mount Tumantangis following reports that a group of Abu Sayyaf was sighted in the area. No casualty was reported on the government side. It was the second possible hostage harboursite that was strike by the pursuing soldiers this week in the hinterlands of Indanan town. The first was last Monday wherein the Abu Sayyaf were forced to abandon their camp with seven bunkers and deep running trenches following a fierce firefight.

The military has yet to recover two remaining hostages our of the 44 people seized by the Abu Sayyaf in Malaysia and in Sulu. The remaining hostages are Filipino dive instructor Roland Ullah and American Jeffrey Schilling. In an interview Wednesday, Camiling emphasized that the offensive will continue even if Ullah and Schilling will be rescued from the Abu Sayyaf. "Kaysa mamatay nga naman sila...di mag-surrender na lang...buhay pa sila, ma-enjoy pa nila ang maititirang buhay nila," Camiling said.


November 14, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf threatens Basilan, by Bong Garcia,

Local government officials of Lantawan, Basilan has coordinated with the police and military to thwart off any attempt from the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf in carrying out atrocities anew in that area. Lantawan town security adviser Habib Araji Hashim revealed Monday that at least 30 fully armed Abu Sayyaf were sighted last week between Barangay Mangal, Lantawan and Barangay Makiri, Isabela.

Hashim said the group is led by Isnilun Hapilun, one of the dreaded Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leaders who is also involved in the previous kidnappings in the island province of Basilan. The presence of Hapilun's group has prompted residents in the area to seek refuge with their relatives either in Isabela or Lantawan town for fear of their lives.

Hashim said they have immediately coordinated with the police and the military to track down and thwart off any impending attack from the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf. "We are monitoring what is actually happening in Lantawan municipality," Hashim said in an interview in Basilan over Radyo Agong. "We are gathering more information about the lawless elements' activities," he added.

However, it was no immediately known whether Hapilun and his followers has just arrived in Lantawan town from the nearby province of Sulu, where the military is conducting a relentless offensive against the Abu Sayyaf. The Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf led by Khadafy Janjalani has seized 54 people from a church-run school, including the slain Claretian priest, Fr. Roel Gallardo, last March 20 in Barangay Tumahubong, Sumisip.

Janjalani, his spokesman Abu Asmad Salayudi and the rest of the followers had filed the island province of Basilan when the military stormed Camp Abdurajak in Mount Punoh Mohajid, in Sumisip town. They sought refuge with their comrades in Sulu. Meanwhile, suspected Abu Sayyaf followers have torched a school building Friday night in Barangay Campo Uno, Lamitan, also in Basilan province. The police reported that a school building of three-classroom was razed to the ground. The damage to property was P.8-million. Police and firefighters who rushed to the scene has also recovered another container full of gasoline. The police and the military has tightened security on all government vital installations to thwart off a possible repetition of the incident.

November 15, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, MILF abducts six coco workers,

Six coconut plantation workers were abducted by heavily armed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels Monday in a bid to pressure the pull out of military troops from the Samipinit mountain, a known lair of the rebels in the island province of Basilan.

Radio reports emanating from Basilan province disclosed Commander Andang Satar Yacub, whose brother is being pursued by the military troops in Sampinit, leads the rebels who seized the victims. Yacub's brother was not immediately identified.

A report reaching the Western Mindanao Regional Police Office from Basilan said the victims were identified as Felix Acaso, 56, Jose Daraug, 46, Gina Daraug, 36, Ignacio Flores, Jr., 36, Arnold Flores, 10 and Roland Prodido. The report said they were seized by the rebels around 10 a.m. Monday while working in the Cocoland plantation in Barangay Upper Colonia, Lamitan, Basilan province.

Latest report from Basilan disclosed that the victims were immediately brought to the hinterlands of Barangay Lower Sinangkapan in the nearby town of Tuburan and later transferred to Barangay Bohe Bakkong of the same town as the rebels continue to elude the pursuing troops.

The report said Yacub is not keen on asking ransom from the management of the cocoland plantation nor from the victims' families. The report said Yacub will only release the victims if the military troops will be pulled out from Sampinit.

Yacub's brother, is said to be the leader of the MILF rebels holed out in Sampinit, which is situated within the tri-boundaries of Isabela, Sumisip and Tuburan towns. Sampinit is a forested mountain, which was also used by the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf when it was newly organized in the early 90's.

November 15, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga,Schilling is very sick, by Bong Garcia,

The lack of food and constant transfer to escape pursuing government troops made American national Jeffrey Schilling very sick, radio reports said. Schilling interviewed over a local radio said, "I'm suffering from ulcer, I have difficultly in eating, I vomit and cough blood just because there's nothing to eat except rice, salt and coconut."

There have been reports that the Abu Sayyaf has been running low of food supply since the military started its offensive two months ago. Schilling said they don't stay long in one place as the bandits continue to avoid the pursuing military troops. "I have been forced to walk in the jungle night and day," he said. He added that being a captive, one could not say that he has been treated well.

Schilling also disclosed that there were times they traveled by boat and had probably gone to Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. The Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf seized Schilling last Aug. 28 when he and his Filipino fiancé visited the bandit's camp in the hinterlands of Patikul, Sulu.

The government has considered the American a "walk-in" visitor and has stopped negotiations with the Moro bandits after the release of the remaining 21 Sipadan hostages. But Schilling remains hopeful that the government would start negotiations for his release.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Asmad Salayudi said if no one would negotiate for Schilling's release, they will continue to kidnap people. His group was responsible for the abduction of 54 people in Basilan early this year. He disclosed that they have already ordered their members to create trouble in Tawi-Tawi. The second remaining hostage is Filipino Roland Ullah, a dive instructor in Sipadan island resort, Sabah, Malaysia when seized last April 23. However, Schilling said he has not seen another hostage being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf.

Diigo, November 16, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf suffers more casualties, by Bong Garcia,

The Abu Sayyaf suffered additional casualties among its members, increasing the death toll to 180 since the military offensive started two months ago. Six members of the Muslim bandit were reported killed during an encounter in the hinterlands of Sulu last Tuesday, military officials reported Wednesday.

The fresh fighting took place minutes after American hostage Jeffrey Schilling, one of the two remaining hostages was interviewed over a radio in this city. A soldier was wounded in Tuesday's clash. Joint Task Force Trident chief, Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya reported troopers from the 7th Infantry Battalion were patrolling when they chanced upon at least 25 armed Abu Sayyaf believed to be followers of the bandits' "field marshall" Ghalib "Robot" Andang around 8:25 a.m. in Barangay Laus, Talipao town.

Abaya said the firefight ensued and lasted for 10 minutes forcing the Abu Sayyaf to fled towards northeast direction leaving their three dead comrades behind. Some of the bandits were believed wounded in the clash as bloodstains were found in their withdrawal path.

Twenty minutes later, Abaya reported that soldiers caught the fleeing Abu Sayyaf in the forested area of Barangay Laus as the soldiers through their bloodstains mark in the withdrawal path tracked down the bandits. He said the bandits suffered another three comrades killed, totaling to six for that day (Tuesday), following a 15-minute firefight. The soldiers recovered two M-16 rifles as the bandits scampered to different directions.

Since the start of the military offensive two months ago, the government troops has suffered seven killed and 24 wounded, including two civilian volunteers. Two hundred seventy two Abu Sayyaf has surrendered while 125 were captured.

Meanwhile, suspicion arises that Schilling and his Abu Sayyaf captors were no longer in the island province of Sulu when interviewed Tuesday over the radio. Aside from the very clear signal during the interview, Schilling disclosed that sometimes they traveled by boat after long hours hike in the jungle of Sulu. "Sometime we go to Tawi-Tawi," Schilling said during the interview.

As to the fate of Roland Ullag, the Filipino dive instructor seized along with 20 others people in Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia is still believed to be kept in the jungle of the island province of Sulu. They were separately kept hostage, as Schilling said he has no idea that there is another hostage being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf.

November 17, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Gov't to sequester Sayyaf assets, by Bong Garcia Jr.,

The military are studying possible ways of confiscating all housing units and other properties, which prominent leaders of the Abu Sayyaf acquired through the ransom money the bandits had amassed during the hostage- taking in Sulu.

Joint Task Force Trident chief Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya Thursday said at least eight housing units acquired by the Abu Sayyaf in Indanan town were discovered by the pursuing military troops. Abaya said the government lawyers are now studying what legal process could be applied to sequester the properties acquired by the Abu Sayyaf through the use of the ransom money.

"Obviously these properties are illegally acquired because they have purchased the properties using the ransom money they have amassed from kidnappings and our lawyers are studying the possibilities to confiscate all of these," Abaya said. "We have to teach them a lesson that they will not earn any kingdom out of their kidnappings," he added. The military are also trying to establish the identity of the housing unit owners.

He said most of the villagers are now helping the military and the police to locate all the properties, which were acquired by the Abu Sayyaf during the hostage crisis. The Abu Sayyaf, who seized a total of 42 people mostly foreigners including journalists covering the hostage crisis, has amassed million of pesos from the ransom paid to them.

Each of the foreigners out of the 21 people of the bandits has seized last April 23 in Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia was freed in exchange of P40-million. Fifteen of the European journalists were divested of their crash, equipments and other personal belongings. Another group of 9 German journalists were allowed to cover the camp a day after the interview by the bandits following payment of U.S. $25,000. The military intelligence disclosed that the bandits managed to amass more than P300-million.

November 17, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, 1 Sayyaf bandits yield to military, by Bong Garcia,

Exhausted in fleeing from pursuing troops, another batch of Abu Sayyaf bandits including a sub-commander had decided to surrender as the military offensive continued in a bid to rescue the remaining hostages and crash the bandits in the province of Sulu.

The surrender came a day after five other bandits were captured by the military during a raid in a coastal area of Maimbung, Sulu. This brings to a total of 61 Abu Sayyaf bandits captured, 43 surrendered and 129 killed.

Armed Forces' Southern Command chief Lt. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva said the latest batch of Abu Sayyaf surrenderees were 11 including the right-hand of bandit "field marshall" Ghalib Andang alias Commander Robot.

Villanueva said Kenhar Amil, a sub-commander of Andang, surrendered around 7 a.m. Sunday to the troopers of the 26th Special Forces Company in Barangay Batad, Maimbung town.

He identified Amil's followers as Utoh Sakilian Ali, Mumar Abduwa, Munji Alibarsa, Punjungan Kasim, Namin Jamsuri, Almuddzin Ammil, Manong Isnain, JajidSamhaji, Baddirin Tadu and Manah Hasim. They had turned over an M-16, M-14 and 8 Garand rifles.

A day before the surrender, elements of the 26th Special Forces Company raided around 11:30 p.m. a house in a mangrove area in Ipil, Maimbung and captured five bandits.

Captured were Mustali Asanji, Bassirul Jalilul Ben Jamsuri, Salip Atari Abdula and Eko Asman. The government troopers also recovered an M-16 and four garand rifles.

Villanueva said troopers of the Task Force Trident led by Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya continued to close in on all possible hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf, who split into several groups to avoid the pursuing military troops.

However, no positive signs yet as to where the hostages were taken by the Abu Sayyaf. Also, the well known bandit leaders Andang, Mujib Susukan and Radulan Sahiron are still at large.

The hostages are American Jeffrey Schilling, Malaysians Mohammad Noor Sulaiman, Joseph Jongkinoh and Ken Wee Cheong and Filipino Roland Ullah.

Index of /Archives/2000/SunStar Davao/November/18
Parent Directory
MILF attempts to take over army camp.txt
Mindanao fishers to benefit from growth of BIMP-EAGA.txt
Ransom divides Robot s followers.txt

November 19, 2000, Sun Star Davao, Ransom divides Robot s followers, [No cache]

November 20, 2000, Sun Star Cagayan, Bomb rips 2 houses; four injured, by Lito M. Rulona and Maricel B. Casiño,

CAGAYAN DE ORO -- An explosion hit a residential area in Barangay Camaman-an on Thursday dawn injuring four persons, less than 24 hours after improvised bombs went off in Iligan and Butuan cities.Mayor Vicente Emano immediately dismissed speculations that terrorist groups were responsible for the latest bomb attack.

This is the second bomb attack in Cagayan de Oro city this year. On April, two explosions occurred in the commercial district of Cogon area. The explosion Thursday followed a bomb attack on Wednesday in a restaurant at Midsayap, Cotabato and the bombing of a substation transformer of the Zamboanga del Sur Electric Cooperative in Barangay Tiguma in Pagadian City.

Emano immediately ordered acting City Police Director Antonio Montalba to conduct an investigation. The mayor was in Manila when the explosion happened. The mayor also considered the conduct of regular police mobile checkpoints in the city's strategic areas.

Acting Mayor Ramon Tabor said the police have already established a lead on the suspects' identities although he refused to elaborate. Emano said the possibility that the incident was a diversionary attack, as what Tabor had raised, was unlikely because there have been a lull in the military operations against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

Those injured in the Camaman-an explosion are Magdalena Aceron, 50, Norma Aceron, 17, Jonathan Aceron, 12, and Emerto Jayag, 25. All of them suffered shrapnel wounds in different parts of their bodies. The victims were released from the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) after treatment.

During the explosion, at least two residential houses owned by Juanait Jayag and Isabel Mosqueda were destroyed and a concrete fence damaged. The incident occurred 100 meters from the Camamana-an Barangay Hall. Task Force investigator Joel Mendez of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office said the bomb attack could be a handiwork of an expert.

Tabor said it could also be possible that the bombing was caused by a land dispute, saying there are other claimants of the vacant lot where the bomb was placed.

Police recovered a double A battery, several pieces of shrapnel composed of hard metals, and a timer. The explosion was heard as far as Barangay Lapasan and City Hall that prompted other police units to rush to the area. Lapasan is 20 minutes travel to Camaman-an.

Initial investigation disclosed that the bomber used a high explosive powder to make the homemade bomb. Mendez said the shrapnel reached as far as 100 feet and the explosion created a crater five feet in diameter and three feet in depth.

Diigo, November 21, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf releases teacher, kids, by Bong Garcia,

Remnants of the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf freed a teacher and two of her children in a village in Sumisip, Basilan province after abducted for 12 days and held captive in the forested mountains of the province. Leticia Pascual, a public school teacher and her children Vincent, 6 and Mary Grace, 9 years old all residents of Barangay Kumalarang, Isabela, the capital town of Basilan were freed last Saturday around 1 p.m. in Barangay Baiwas Sumisip town.

Southern Command spokesman, Col. Hilario Atendido Monday said the victims were freed following negotiations initiated by Balwas Barangay Captain Madjang Liguisan amidst pressure from the elements of the 10th Infantry Battalion. "The bandits were given ultimatum. But whether they will release the victims or not we have to rum after them," Atendido said.

Pascual said they were brought by the kidnappers to Barangay Baiwas and left them to the custody of a certain Ustadz Munap Api where they were held captive. "They fed us with food that we have to be content with considering the situation. But I was very worried on my two young children," Pascual told the military when they were debriefed before they were brought to the 103rd Army Brigade for proper disposition to their respective families.

The elder Pascual along with her four children were forcibly taken by 60 armed Abu Sayyaf under Commander Isnilon Hapilon from their home in Kumalarang, Isabela town last Nov. 6. However, two of Pascual's children, Anoy, 3, and Jeffrey, 5 were abandoned by bandits and were subsequently recovered by pursuing military and police operatives with the help of villagers.

Hapilon's group were monitored earlier this month by local officials of Lantawan town hiding in one of the villages in the area. They were reportedly looking for prospective kidnap victims. Meanwhile, Atendido said an Abu Sayyaf was killed in a clash against the government troops searching for the two remaining captives, American Jeffrey Schilling and Filipino dive instructor Roland Ullah, in the jungle of Sulu. Atendido said the elements of the 77th Infantry Battalion were conducting combat patrol when they encountered over the weekend 10 fully armed followers the bandits' "chief of staff" Radulan Sahiron guarding an observation post at Mount Awak, Patikul town.

He said a brief gunbattle erupted that left one Abu Sayyaf follower killed while undetermined were wounded. The bandits fled towards east direction. Deadtoll of the Abu Sayyaf increased to 199 as sporadic clashes continued with troops mounting its operation in the different jungle lairs of the bandit group in Sulu.

November 23, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, 'Robot,' Susukan part ways, by Bong Garcia,

Abu Sayyaf "field Marshal" Ghalib "Robot Andang and "provincial commander" Mujib Susukan, who are known to be partners, split themselves in a bid to continue eluding the pursuing military troops in the hinterlands of the island province of Sulu, the military reported here yesterday.

Andang and Susukan had spearheaded the abduction of 21 people, 19 of whom are foreigners, last April 23 in Sipadan island dive resort in Sabah, Malaysia and brought the victims to the hinterlands of Sulu. The victims were freed by batches following payment of millions of pesos ransom.

Military intelligence reports disclosed Andang and Susukan have divided their group into two factions to elude the government forces who have been chasing them for nine weeks now since the offensive was launched last Sept. 16 aimed to crash the bandits and rescue the two remaining hostages.

The report said Andang has remained in the forested mountain of Talipao town with less than a hundred followers while Susukan was sighted in the hinterlands of Patikul municipality. However, it was not clear who among them is holding hostage Roland Ullah, the last Sipadan hostages in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.

Meanwhile, Southern Command spokesman, Col. Hilario Atendido said the Joint Task Force Trident has not slowed down the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, a self styled Islamic fighter here in the south. Atendido said there are still over 4,000 soldiers that are still scouring the jungle of the province to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Atendido said the pursuing trooper has clashed Monday against 20 armed bandits in the hinterlands of Maimbung and Talipao towns leaving four dead Abu Sayyaf and a soldier wounded. He said the first firefight took place around 10:10 a.m. between the troopers of the 77th Infantry Battalion and 10 Abu Sayyaf while patrolling Barangay Poblacion, Talipao. Two Abu sayyaf followers were monitored to have wounded following a 15- minute firefight. A soldier was also injured. Atendido said the bandits fled towards northeast direction dragging along with them their wounded comrades. Bloodstains were founded in their withdrawal path.

Around 12:10 p.m. elements of the 55th IB clashed with another 10 members of the Abu Sayyaf in the hinterlands of Maimbung. No one was reported injured on the government side while undetermined Abu Sayyaf followers were wounded during the 10-minute firefight. "Bloodstains were found along the withdrawal route, but we can not determine yet if they were badly wounded," Atendido said.

The government forces has recovered from the scene of the firefight a jungle pack containing camouflage uniform, foodstuffs, medicines, three kilos of rice, sugar, two reams of cigarette, a flashlight, cassette recorder and playing cards abandoned by the fleeing bandits.

December 4, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Military finds 15 bodies in mass grave, by Bong Garcia,

The military Friday chanced upon a mass grave believed to be that of the Abu Sayyaf while scouring the bandits' mountain lair in Patikul town, Sulu, a military spokesman Sunday said. Southern Command spokesman Hilario Atendido said troopers from the 77th Infantry Battalion dug up 15 bodies in Mount Bagsak, Patikul, around 10 a.m. Friday.

Atendido said they believe the bodies, suspected to be slain Abu Sayyaf members, were buried three to four weeks ago. The military believe the bodies were that of slain followers of Abu Sayyaf chief of staff Radulan Sahiron who maintains a camp in Patikul.

"The bodies that were found were believed to be casualties of the Abu Sayyaf in the previous encounters with the government troops," Atendido said. Atendido said while the 77th IB troopers were digging for bodies, a firefight erupted in nearby Luba Hill also in Patikul town, between soldiers of the 7th IB and at least 15 armed Abu Sayyaf bandits.

"The troops were on combat patrol when they chanced upon the bandits," Atendido said. He added that the bandits fled towards the northeast direction following a five-minute firefight. Also Friday, an Abu Sayyaf member has surrendered to the military in the town of Maimbung while another bandit was captured in Patikul Saturday.

He identified the bandit that surrendered to the military in Maimbung town as Benhar Jaafar, 22, a resident of Barangay Langtad. Jaafar had turned over an M-16 Armalite rifle. Muksin Aidjas, on the other hand, was arrested by the 7th IB troopers while the group was scouring Barangay Kan Baddal, Patikul. Recovered from Aidjas' possession was a Garand rifle. Since the military offensive was launched against the Abu Sayyaf two months ago, 214 bandits were killed, 175 captured and 240 surrendered.

January 31, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Soldier, 10 Sayyafs die in Jolo clash,

ZAMBOANGA -- A fierce gunbattle between troopers of the 77th Infantry Battalion and around a hundred bandits in the forest of Parang town, Sulu on Monday claimed the life of a soldier and 10 Abu Sayyaf members, reports said.

Ten Abu Sayyaf and a soldier were killed in a fierce gunbattle Monday between the troopers of the 77th Infantry Battalion and 100 armed bandits in the forest of Parang town, Sulu, a military spokesman said Tuesday. Four soldiers and an undetermined number of bandits were wounded during the gunfight that began 10 a.m. and lasted for two hours in Barangay Tukay Parang town.

The incident followed the military's rejection of an appeal by the Abu Sayyaf to open negotiations for the safe release of the three hostages they were still holding captive in the forest of Sulu. Col. Hilario Atendido, Southern Command spokesman, said the gunbattle took place when a platoon of soldiers from the 77th IB chanced upon a the armed bandits believed to be led by Abu Sayyaf "chief of staff" Radulan Sahiron while patrolling the village of Tukay.

Atendido said the government troops were immediately reinforced by soldiers from the Alpha Company, also from the 77th IB, who pounded the Abu Sayyaf at high ground. The intense fighting resulted in the death of 10 Abu Sayyaf members while an undetermined number of bandits were also wounded, but dragged along by their fleeing comrades. The government troops recovered the bodies of the slain bandits.

The slain and wounded soldiers could not be identified as of press time Tuesday. Col. Romeo Tolentino, chief of the Sulu-based 104th Infantry Brigade, reported Tuesday that pursuit operations continue. Government troopers are tracking down the bandits who fled towards the thickly forested area of Parang town.

The Armed Forces Southern Command Headquarters has placed on standby two MG-520 rocket-firing helicopters ready to launch air support to ground troops pursuing the Abu Sayyaf. The firefight took place a day after the Abu Sayyaf called on the government to open negotiations for the safe release of American Jeffrey Schilling, Filipino dive master Rolland Ullah and their latest hostage, Steven Chua, 43, a Taiwanese national.

Chua, a businessman, was abducted in Sitangkal, Tawi-Tawi last Jan. 8 and brought by the bandits to Sulu. Schilling was seized on Aug. 28, 2000 when he visited the bandits' camp while Ullah is the last remaining hostage among the 21 people seized by the Abu Sayyaf from a dive resort in Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia on April 23, 2000.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Asmad Salayudi, alias Abu Sabaya, said over radio dzRH on Sunday that they were willing to negotiate and free all their captives safely without any ransom provided the military would stop its offensive against them in the Sulu and Basilan provinces. In rejecting the bandits' call, Atendido said that as far as the government was concerned, they would not deal with the Abu Sayyaf, a self-styled terrorist group.

"We've already learned our lessons, they (Abu Sayyaf) don't stick to their words. The military will not negotiate," Atendido said. One instance was when the bandits kidnapped 53 people in Basilan province. The Abu Sayyaf demanded 100 sacks of rice in exchange for the release of the hostages. When the demand was complied with, the group did not release its captives. Instead, the bandits asked for the removal of churches and crosses erected in Basilan and Sulu and other demands. The group then tortured and executed Fr. Roel Gallardo, who was among its captives.

Lt. Col. Fredesvindo Covarrubias, AFP Civil Relations Group for Mindanao chief, said: "The act of the Abu Sayyaf is a desperate move because nobody is negotiating with them." Salayudi talked again Tuesday over radio dzRH and said they wanted Makati Rep. Joker Arroyo to act as chief negotiator and suggested that the congressmen tap the help of Zamboanga businessman Lepeng Wee, Engr. Ibrahim Lim, his wife Dra. Huda Lim, and uncle Vic Abdulaup, the chief of immigration in Davao.

"May tiwala kami kay Mr. Joker Arroyo. May tiwala kami sa administrasyon ni Presidente Arroyo, baka hintuin na naming ang pagkikidnap at tuloy-tuloy na ang kapayapaan ditto sa aming lalawigan," Salayudi said. Salayudi also said they did not abduct the victims just for ransom but as a negotiating card in their grievance against the government for neglecting their plight as Muslims. "Baka iniisip ng gobierno na kaya kami nagkaganito dahil sa ransom? Hindi ho," Salayudi added.

The Abu Sayyaf spokesman said Ullah's health condition was relatively stable while Schilling lost weight and was constantly vomiting due to lack of medication. But Arroyo said he needed the permission of the National  Government before he could start negotiating with the bandits for the release of the hostages. "Kailangan ko muna ang pahintulot ng gobyerno," he said.

"If they (Abu Sayyaf) are really concerned about the health conditions of the hostages, they should free the victims unconditionally," Atendido said, believing that the claim was part of the psychological tactic of the bandits.

March 14, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Additional troops requested to help pursue the Abu Sayaff, by Bong Garcia,

ZAMBOANGA - Col Romeo Tolentino, commander of the Army's 104th Infantry Brigade has requested for the deployment of additional troops in his area of operations as the military gears for more armed confrontation against the bandits hiding in the forest of Sulu.

This as outgoing Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes had ordered the military in Sulu to continue the offensive against the bandits who are still holding four people captive. Reyes was here Monday afternoon for his last command visit as AFP chief. He will retire this coming March 17.

Tolentino said the additional troops will be utilized as blocking forces while the others will be maneuvering forces as the bandits are "very mobile". Tolentino said the Abuy Sayyaf keeps on transferring from one place in the forest of the adjacent towns of Indanan, Patikul and Talipao.

"Liliit ang kanilang playground," he said. The blocking forces can advance towards the areas cleared by the maneuvering forces. The Sulu Army commander said as long as the Abu Sayyaf exists, the peace and order problems in Sulu could not be solved.

The country's reputation was tainted in the international community after the Abu Sayyaf has staged the biggest kidnapping on April 23, 2000 and seized 21 people, mostly foreigners, in Sipadan island dive resort in Sabah, Malaysia. "We cannot stop the kidnapping unless the Abu Sayyaf are eliminated".

Tolentino said the present strength of the Abu Sayyaf numbers to 500. Out of the bandits' present strength, 350 are considered hardcore. The strength of the Abu Sayyaf had swelled to 5,000 after the bandits had staged the April 23, 2000 kidnapping in Malaysia. The others were employed by the bandits as security forces.

"They still have the fighting capability," said Southern command chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling, although the bandits strength was drastically lessened. The other bandits had left the group following the relentless offensive against them by the military in Sulu. The four captives that are still in the hands of Abu Sayyaf are American Jeffrey Schilling, Taiwanese businessman Steven Chua, Filipino dive master Roland Ullah and businessman's wife Marilyn Tiu.

March 15, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Military-Sayyaf clash anew; 3 killed, by Bong Garcia,

ZAMBOANGA -- Military troopers clashed Wednesday morning with heavily armed Abu Sayaff bandits, who consider themselves self-styled Islamic fighters, in the island province of Basilan. The encounter claimed the lives of two bandits and a soldier. Two soldiers were also wounded during the military's skirmish with the Basilan-based bandits led by Khadafy Janjalani, the head leader of all Abu Sayyaf groups operating in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

An initial military report revealed that Wednesday's clash took place at 9:10 a.m. while soldiers from the 10th Infantry Battalion were patrolling the village of Bulanza, Lantawan Basilan. Two bandits and a solider were killed while two government troopers were wounded. No identities were immediately available. The skirmish continued as of press time Wednesday.

The military believe the bandits that figured in Wednesday's firefight with the military are followers of Ismulon Hapilon, one of the field leaders of the Abu Sayaff based in Basilan province. Hapilon's group was sighted several times during the past days in the villages of Bulanza and Kanibungan town. They were reportedly mapping out plans to stage kidnapping activities and collect revolutionary taxes from residents in the area.

The Basilan based Abu Sayaff were responsible for the kidnapping of 54 people last year in that province and had fled to Sulu when the military bombarded their lair known as Camp Abdurajak in Mount Punoh Mohajid in Sumisip town.

When the military also bombarded the bandits in Sulu, who are responsible for the Sipadan, Malaysia kidnapping, the Basilan-based bandits returned to their origin and resumed extortion activities. The Army's 104th Infantry Brigadem, meanwhile, continues pursuit operations against Sulu-based bandits in a bid to rescue their four remaining captives.

April 26, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, 14 militiamen die in clash with Abu, by Bong Garcia,

ZAMBOANGA -- Fourteen paramilitary troopers of the government were killed in heavy fighting with the Abu Sayyaf that lasted for two hours in an island off Sumisip town, Basilan province, a military official said. he military believe that the bandits also suffered heavy casualties, incurred by government's raiding militia force led by former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Commanders Rohong de Guzman and Kadil Musadikan.

Col. Juvenal Narcise, Task Force Comet spokesman, said the two-hour heavy fighting started around 9 a.m. Tuesday when the militia force swooped down on the bandits' lair in the barangays of Sulluh and Kannao in Tapiantana island, about 1.5 nautical miles off Sumisip town in mainland Basilan province.

The militia forces came from the islands of Bubuan and Lanawan, also off Sumisip town, which are adjacent to Tapiantana island. Narcise said the raiding militiamen met heavy resistance from some 60 armed Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Khadafy Janjalani, his spokesman Abu Asmad Salayudi, and a certain Bigboy.

The group of Janjalani landed recently in Tapiantana island after managing to slip out of Sulu province to evade pursuing military troopers. In Sulu province, the government offensive against the remaining Abu Sayyaf members continues. The move is intended to rescue dive master Roland Ullah, the only remaining hostage in the hands of the bandits.

"Fourteen of our militiamen were killed, but the Abu Sayyaf incurred most of the casualties," Narcise said. The paramilitary troopers, however, failed to retrieve the bodies of the dead bandits, claiming their comrades dragged them along. Salayudi, in an interview over radio dxLL, claimed Wednesday morning that they were able to confiscate 15 assorted high-powered firearms and three motorboats from attacking government forces.

"We already warned the government that we are ready to face them," added. Narcise said Col. Saulito Aromin, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, dispatched troopers from the 10th Infantry Battalion to back the militiamen in Tapiantana island. "At present, the area remains tense as pursuit operations continue," Narcise said, adding that naval patrol has been intensified to block the Abu Sayyaf from slipping out of Tapiantana.

The island of Tapiantana is being used by the Abu Sayyaf as a jump-off point in going from Basilan to Sulu and vice-versa. Narcise believed Janjalani and his followers fled to Basilan to divide the attention of the government troops pursuing after the bandits. So far, added Narcise, the military already recovered more than 50 assorted high-powered firearms from the bandits since President Arroyo ordered an "all-out war" against the Abu Sayyaf.

Ullah is the remaining hostage among the 21 people, mostly foreigners, seized by the bandits on April 23, 2000 from a Sipadan island resort in Sabah, Malaysia and brought to the province of Sulu.

May 29, 2001, Sun Star, Sayyaf owns abduction of 20 tourists,

ZAMBOANGA -- Abu Sayyaf bandits have claimed responsibility for the early morning raid and the abduction of 20 people including three Americans on Sunday from the Dos Palmas Beach Resort in Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Asmand Salayudi, alias Abu Sabaya, confirmed in a radio interview with radio dxRZ that the hostages were in their custody and stressed that it was now time for government to listen to their demands. President Arroyo reiterated in a statement after an emergency meeting Monday night of the Cabinet Cluster-E that her administration would not pay ransom or negotiate with terrorists.

Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Command chief, met his officers here in the city after the bandits owned up to the kidnapping. Col. Juvenal Narcise, Basilan-based 103rd Infantry Brigade chief, and Col. Romeo Tolentino, head of the Sulu-based 104th Infantry Brigade, have dispatched troops to ascertain the whereabouts of the bandits and their hostages.

Salayudi, meanwhile, said half of the hostages, including the Americans, were held in Basilan province while the rest were in the hands of their allies in the island of Jolo. The hostages in Basilan, he added, are in the custody of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadafy Janjalani while Sulu-based "provincial commander" Mujib Susukan is holding the captives brought to Jolo.

To support his claim, Salayudi allowed two of the 10 hostages in the custody of Janjalani's group to talk over radio dxRZ. Allowed to talk are American Martin Burnham and Luis Raul de Guzman Recio, a magazine editor of Travel Hostel Philippines.


Burnham said he was with his wife Gracia, "safe, unharmed, our needs being met" and appealed for a "peaceful and safe negotiation." Recio said he was in the hands of the kind Abu Sayyaf and hoped government would think twice in its rescue efforts. In the custody of Janjalani's group in Basilan, along with Burnham and Recio, are Gracia Burnham, R.J. Recio, Francis Ganzon, Teresa Ganzon, and Maria Fe Rosadeno.

Those in Sulu are Janice Ting Co, Luis Bautista III, Lalaine Chua, Kimberly Jao, Letty Jao, Romero Regis, Maria Riza Rodriguez Santos, Sonny Dacque, Armando Bayona and Eldrin Morales. Salayudi did not say, though, which part of Basilan the hostages was brought to.

He refused to answer when asked if he was amenable to a negotiation for the safe release of the hostages. He also did not talk about the Abu Sayyaf's demands. "Mag-uusap muna kami, mahirap na makainitan ng gobyerno," he said. (We will talk first; it's hard to provoke the government.) The Abu Sayyaf spokesman also said government should not force their hand into hurting the American hostages.

"Don't compare them (Americans) to Jeffery Schilling. He is a Muslim, that's why we are hesitant to hurt him. Now we have in custody three Americans. It's hard for us to say anything lest we be put to shame," he pointed out. He also said the Abu Sayyaf had nothing to do with last Wednesday's attack on the Pearl Farm Beach Resort.

3 sea crafts

Earlier on Monday, Camiling has ordered the deployment of troops to scour the Mapun group of islands off Tawi-Tawi following the reported landing of three unidentified sea crafts Sunday night in the area. Lt. Col. Danilo Servando, Southern Command spokesman, said Monday that Mapun Mayor Abdul Patta reported to the military in the area that the sea crafts landed around 10:15 p.m. on Sunday between the beaches of Umus and Mattaha.

Umus and Mattaha are islets situated 10 nautical miles north of Mapun, an island municipality of Tawi-Tawi province. The two islets fell under the political jurisdiction of Mapun town. "We have confirmatory reports from civilians and the mayor of Mapun (formerly known as Cagayan de Tawi- tawi) that three unidentified sea crafts landed when night fell," Servando said.

The reported landing took place five hours after pilots of a Nomad surveillance plane sighted three sea crafts sailing towards Mapun. They were sighted around 5:15 p.m. on Sunday. One of the sea-crafts is a kumpit (large boat) colored gray outside and green inside with 25 people on board wearing green clothing.

The second one is a fishing boat colored white with nipa roofing and four person on board wearing green clothing. The last one is a sport-type speedboat with two persons on board. Servando said the three sea crafts were doing evasive maneuvers whenever the Nomad surveillance plane pilots make advances. "They were last seen moving towards the eastern part of Cagayan de Tawi-tawi (Mapun)," he said.

The military spokesman admitted though that they have no idea as to the present whereabouts of the three sea crafts. "We cannot say where the sea- crafts are due to our limited capability especially at nighttime," Servando disclosed. The Southern Command has deployed ground troops and dispatched patrol gunboats to set up a Naval blockade. "Mapun is sealed, but we are not concentrating only in Mapun. It can be a refuelling point," the military spokesman said. "The military is mobilizing all the resources to prevent them from bringing their hostages to Sulu," he added.

May 30, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Sayyaf not yet in Basilan, Sulu: military

ZAMBOANGA -- The Abu Sayyaf bandits who seized on Sunday 20 people, including three Americans, have not yet reached the island provinces of Basilan or Sulu, a top official said. This despite claims made Monday by Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Asmad Salayudi alias Abu Sabaya that they had divided the hostages into two groups and are separately held in captivity in Basilan and Sulu provinces.

"Hanggang ngayon wala pa tayong positive information sa whereabout ng Abu Sayyaf. Alam natin they are stranded in Mapun," said Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling, Jr., commander of Southern Command. "We are not conforming or denying it, but so far reports from our sources wala pang nag-landing," Camiling added. Mapun is situated southwest of this city.

He said the claim of Sabaya was apparently to mislead government authorities, both the military and Police, who are tracking the bandits in a bid to recover the 20 hostages. Sabaya even allowed tow of the 20 hostages to talk Monday over RMN-Zamboanga to prove his claim that the hostages are in their hands. Those who were allowed to talk were American Martin Burnham and Filipino Luis Raul de Guzman Recio.

"We know the capability of the satellite phone. Anywhere you are, you can contact," he said. The Southcom chief said they have implemented a contingency plan with ground troopers scouring the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan while 11 Naval patrol gunboats were deployed on a blockade position.

Ground troopers were likewise deployed to scour all islands around the three provinces. "I directed my field units to check on areas which are probable landing sites," Camiling said. Two Army battalions were also sent to Panglima Estino town in Sulu province following reports from civilians that a fastcraft had landed in the place. The fastcraft arrived around 10 am Monday in the coastal barangay of Sulud Goloba, Panglima Estino. "The hostages are still intact, but this is not yet confirmed," said Sulu police director Supt. Candido Casimiro, Jr. Meanwhile, the Moro National Liberation Fron (MNLF) has joined the military in the search for the Abu Sayyaf and the hostages in the province of Sulu.

MNLF Chief of Staff Yusop Jikiri, who won in the gubernatorial race in Sulu, had ordered MNLF fighters to monitor and determine the exact location of the bandits and to rescue the hostages. "As of now my men are still searching where the group is. I have yet to receive a report," Jikiri said.

Diigo, June 11, 2001, Sun Star, Abu Sayyaf burns church seizes more hostages,

LAMITAN -- Abu Sayyaf guerrillas holding 13 hostages including three Americans seized at least two new captives and burned a Christian church in a raid on the southern island of Basilan early Monday, police said.

The rebels raided the village of Pairan near Tuburan town and seized at least two unidentified hostages, Police Superintendent Achmadul Pangambayan told reporters, adding that one chapel was set on fire.

Radio Mindanao Network reported from Basilan that Abu Sayyaf gunmen raided a coconut plantation and seized at least one farm worker after a gunfight with the plantation's security guards.

Brigadier General Edilberto Adan, a military spokesman, said in Manila that he could not confirm the report. But he said such attacks could be described as "diversionary operations to split our forces" in Basilan.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen, who say they are fighting for an independent Islamic state, seized the three Americans and 17 other people from Dos Palmas resort on Arrecife island off Palawan on May 27 and took them to Basilan. Nine Filipino hostages escaped last Saturday amid a military offensive, including one man with a knife wound on the neck. But the gunmen executed two other Filipino captives and later seized two nurses, a midwife and a clerk from a hospital in Lamitan on Basilan. (AFP)

Diigo, June 11, 2001, Sun Star Davao, MNLF clash with Sayyaf bandits,

JOLO, Sulu -- Members of the Moro National Liberation Front who have been integrated in the government's armed forces clashed with suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf in Bunot, Indanan Sunday around 10 am. No one was reported killed.

Two squads were attending funeral rites in Lampati, Indanan town when they received reports that suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf were seen in Bunot, some 300 meters away. The armed forces were on their way to the area when armed men engaged them in a firefight.

Reports said brothers Albadir and Lalung Parad, allegedly "commanders" of the Abu Sayyaf were seen hiding in a hut while eight others were waiting in another hut. The suspected bandits fled towards a known Abu Sayyaf lair -- Mt. Pukay, the second highest mountain south of Sulu -- as military reinforcements came.

Last Friday, two helicopter gun-ships bombed a mountainous area in Patikul and Talipao towns, following reports that Abu Sayyaf bandits were seen there. There are no civilians residing in the area but shrapnel hit one of two boys who were in the area to harvest some coconuts. The boy is now confined at the provincial hospital. Military officials declined to comment, citing the news blackout directive of President Arroyo.

June 13, 2001, Sun Star Davao, School doesn't have rooms, teachers for 600 students,

How do you accommodate 600 freshmen students when there are no classrooms and no additional teachers? At least 2,000 parents of students from the Daniel R. Aguinaldo High School (DRAHS) in Davao City asked that question during a parents-teachers meeting last Saturday that tackled problems brought about by Education Secretary Raul Roco's Memorandum Order No. 22.

The parents acknowledge the order is good because they can enroll their children without having to shell out money for the various fees imposed. These fees are to be collected in July and August. DRAHS Principal Janet Cadiente said the order, which mandates a "no refusal of enrollees," left them with no choice but to accept every child who enrolls.

Cadiente said some parents opted to pay the fees at enrolment time instead of waiting later. But the downside is, how and where will the additional students be accommodated? School authorities had to accommodate the additional 600 freshmen at the covered court but without chairs, classrooms and teachers, how can classes be held?

Students were told to bring sacks to sit on the concrete floor. The inconvenience has led other students to skip school. DRAHS, Cadiente said, used to have only 25 sections for first year, or about 5,300 students. This year, she said, there are 5,900 students and 31 sections. Each section now has 75 students, instead of 60, making it all the more difficult for teachers to handle a class.

"Where is quality education here?" Cadiente asked. To top it all, there is no budget allocation for new teachers or additional facilities. DRAHS has prided itself as a multi-awarded school, having achieved the Hall of Fame with its outstanding Boy Scouts awards, and a Girl Scouts awards last school year. In academics, DRAHS ranked seventh in the National Secondary Achievement Test (NSAT) in Southern Mindanao, outperforming the Davao City National High School which ranked 23rd. DRAHS has also been awarded thrice as the "most effective" school in the region as its students have had a track record of reaping academic awards in various national competitions.

"We are being faced with a very big problem. We are in excess of last year's number. You (parents) are our only hope," Cadiente appealed to the parents who attended the meeting. Fely Reyes, mother of one of the freshmen students under section Globe, lamented that the hard-earned P20 baon she gave her son for a whole week's baon was wasted since there were no classes. She asks: "Why can President Arroyo give P1 million reward to whoever kills an Abu Sayyaf member but cannot provide a better school for the children?"

DOT 10 sets focus on tourism hub concept
Jun 21, 2001 – ... GA Author: Terry C. Betonio Source: Sun Star Cagayan Date Published: ... Page: internet edition CAGAYAN -- Setting aside the Abu Sayyafproblem, ... Situationer for 2000 to 2001 in an attempt to present to the traveler

June 25, 2001, Sun Star, Sobero is still alive: MILF,

DAVAO -- Guillermo Sobero, one of the three Americans taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf, is alive and is still in the hands of his captors, said Moro Islamic Liberation Front spokesman Eid Kabalu. The MILF leader said Sobero was not dead and that "by Tuesday or Wednesday, we will know where he is and what his present health condition is."

In Manila, Malacañang condemned the beheading by Abu Sayyaf bandits of two of the 15 hostages they seized from a plantation in Lantawan town, and whose bodies were found Saturday. This latest criminal act of the bandits, said presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao, only fuels the desire of both the government troops and the public to annihilate them and end the kidnapping crisis in Mindanao.

Relatives of the beheaded hostages searched for the severed heads on Sunday as the government played down the prospect of the bandits releasing more of the 23 remaining captives. The Abu Sayyaf hostage crisis entered its fifth week with grim scenes of 10 men searching for severed heads through the neat rows of rubber trees at a plantation about three kilometers from Isabela, the provincial capital of Basilan island.

Moro guerrillas still hold over 20 hostages including US Christian missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham, both Kansas natives. Californian Guillermo Sobero is presumed dead after the rebels claimed to have beheaded him, although his body has not been found.


But MILF's Kabalu said in a telephone interview on Sunday afternoon that Sobero is very much alive and is on the move together with his captors. He clarified that he did not confirm Sobero's death due to debilitating wounds worsened by diabetes or that the bandits beheaded him since he was slowing them down.

"What I said was that we had received such reports but I did not confirm that he is dead. I told them that we were still verifying the veracity of the report," he pointed out. Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya earlier said in a radio interview that they beheaded Sobero, one of 20 hostages seized on May 27 from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan, on June 12 as an Independence Day gift to President Arroyo.

Kabalu, however, said none of the three Americans in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf had died, adding that it was difficult to monitor the rebels' movement because there were only a few of them and they were always on the move. "Very flexible kasi ang mga grupong ito (This group is very flexible). They know the terrain very well and they move in small groups while the military is stationed in one place," he said.

Military officials had given up Sobero for dead though his body was not found after freed hostage Francis Ganzon said he and the other hostages had not seen the American hostage since the bandits tied his hands at the back and took him from the camp.

On Saturday, two headless bodies and two severed heads were found Saturday near Tuburan on the island's north coast, where the guerrillas said they executed Sobero. The remains near Tuburan were not immediately identified but police said they were Filipinos. The bodies dumped in a forested area near Isabela were identified as Primitivo Falcasantos and Crisanto Suelo, who were among the more than 20 Filipino and US hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf.


Tiglao said President Arroyo was very sad when she heard about the beheading of the two plantation workers. "Yung carnage of the Abu Sayyaf continues and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms and we condone with the family and yun nga it gives us more resolve to end this crisis immediately and to capture and annihilate the Abu Sayyaf," added Tiglao.

An inscription was written in blood in the shirt of the bodies claiming that "Robot," an alias for Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Commander Ghalib Andang, was behind the beheadings. Andang already sent feelers that he would surrender but no definite schedule on when he would do it. Tiglao and National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, in separate interviews, said they received no new reports concerning Andang. Field reports, however, indicate that the rift between the Basilan and Sulu bandits is growing. Golez said the military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf would continue, adding he was confident that no bandit would be able to leave the province while government troops were in hot pursuit.

In addition to the marines, army and counter-terrorist groups scouring the area, members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) are also extending assistance. An additional 10,000 Cafgus are also expected provide additional manpower to the military. He added that the recruitment and training system for Cafgu volunteers was in place and would be followed properly. He added that the public, particularly Basilan residents, could depend on the militiamen.

The MILF is also helping the military, said Kabalu, adding that MILF leaders have directed their 2000-strong army in Basilan to monitor, and if possible, apprehend the Abu Sayyaf bandits. It was learned that the MILF has stationed its 402nd Bangsa Moro Brigade, which is being led by a certain Commander Mudjahid, in Basilan. A military advance on suspected Abu Sayyaf lairs was continuing in a mountainous area in the centre of Basilan island.


Military officials also ruled out Sunday claims of independent Malaysian negotiators that three hostages would walk free Sunday, saying there had been no sightings of any released captives. Tiglao is suspicious of the motives of the private mediators, believed to be former Malaysian senator Sairin Karno and businessman Yusuf Hamdan who the rebels specifically demanded as negotiators.

Golez, meanwhile, said further hostage releases "were just rumors" without evidence. "They said they were released some days ago but we have seen nothing yet." It would take about three days for released captives to walk through military lines and emerge from the jungle but "there have been no sightings", Golez said.

Government officials have received calls from people identifying themselves as Sairin and Hamdan saying they were in direct contact with the guerrillas and were instrumental in the release of three hostages last week. But Tiglao said the motive of Hamdan in particular was suspect. "We appreciate his help, but are a bit worried if he's doing it for the sake of Muslims or for other reasons. We are not too happy about it," Tiglao said.

Tiglao said the US government had reiterated that it will "reject all aid intended to facilitate the payment of ransom." Sairin and Hamdan negotiated with the Abu Sayyaf in a hostage crisis last year, brokering a Libyan-funded deal that raised millions of dollars for the guerrillas in exchange for dozens of hostages, including 10 western tourists.

Hamdan, who has been in mobile phone contact with rebel spokesman Sabaya, said he has pleaded for the lives of the hostages, saying "as Muslims it is against our religion" to kill them. A man answering Sairin's phone Sunday said the politician was not available.


In the past week, seven decapitated bodies have been discovered. Two were Filipino plantation workers abducted on June 11, and three were soldiers missing since a firefight with the guerrillas in early June. Relatives of hostages whose bodies were found Saturday searched for the severed heads Sunday at a plantation three kilometers from the provincial capital of Isabela, where caked blood covered one patch of ground about 30 meters from the highway.

The men went about their grim task quietly, but had had no luck several hours later. Two other bodies found Friday near Tuburan, where the Abu Sayyaf said they beheaded Sobero, have not been identified but police said they were Filipinos. In early June, when nine hostages escaped, another two captives were killed, one of them decapitated.

President Arroyo, determined there be "no ransom, no negotiations, no mercy," has sent more than 5,000 troops to Basilan to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf. The self-styled Islamic freedom fighters are described by the military as bandits with a history of beheading hostages. Arroyo said she understands and agrees with the policy of the United States no to negotiate with terrorists.

"Ang sinasabi ng US we reject all aid intended to facilitate the payment of ransom. So far we don't have any Libyans who offered any other or any form of concrete help to resolve the hostage crisis although we appreciate their effort and (Libyan leader Muammar) Gadhafi's statement condemning the Abu Sayyaf," said Tiglao, Arroyo's spokesman.

Libya was reportedly brokering a deal with the Abu Sayyaf to free the remaining hostages, but the US scoffed at the report noting that it might end up paying the bandit group ransom as what happened in the Sipadan hostage incident where Libya also interceded. They also reiterated that they are against any payment of ransom to the bandits in exchange for the release of the hostages, which included two Americans. (Sunnex/wires)

Diigo, July 16, 2001, Sun Star, Tough stance vs. Sayyaf to woo investors: Arroyo,

ILIGAN -- An alliance of Muslims and Christians based in Manila has condemned the mass arrest of alleged Abu Sayyaf backers in Basilan and three other areas, even as President Arroyo hoped the tough stance would woo investors back to the country.

The military crackdown on Abu Sayyaf kidnappers still holding over 20 hostages in Basilan and their backers continued Sunday in an attempt to capture the gunmen and rescue the hostages. In a statement, the Moro- Christian People's Alliance criticized the mass arrest, saying it could lead to a "de facto martial law."

The group also said President Arroyo should not use former president Joseph Estrada's "bully tactics" in resolving the Abu Sayyaf issue and in dealing with Moro rebels. In the latest incident following the start of government's intensified crackdown, a suspected member of the bandit group was shot dead Sunday after resisting arrest at a marine checkpoint in the island province of Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf holds some 21 American and Filipino hostages.

The man was aboard a bus going to Basilan's capital town. After soldiers stopped the vehicle for a routine check, he panicked and attacked fellow passengers with a machete, police said. Three civilians and a marine were wounded before the suspected rebel was gunned down, they said. In Zamboanga city, army special forces seized a suspected rebel sympathizer Sunday in a swoop on a residential area, officials said. Police and soldiers conducting patrols around Zamboanga's coastline also intercepted a boatman who had reportedly assisted wounded Abu Sayyaf rebels from nearby Basilan.

Sustained war

In Manila, Arroyo said she thought the financial markets would react positively to the sustained war against the separatist Abu Sayyaf group."I hope so," said Arroyo when asked whether the crackdown could tempt back investors. "What is important is that our offensive is continuing so that we will have peace in our country," Arroyo told radio dzRH.

Arroyo launched the new assault on the rebel group Friday, giving the military powers to detain for up to 36 hours suspected rebels and their sympathizers, even without arrest warrants. Although she said those arrested should be released if prosecutors failed to file charges within a specified time, human rights workers have condemned the initiative as a "Gestapo style" offensive open to abuses by the military.

Among them the MCPA, with its spokesperson Amirah Ali Lidasan wondering why President Arroyo "would turn her guns on Muslim civilians in her administration's futile efforts to catch the Abu Sayyaf group." "If (the) arrest was a test drive in preparation for more warrantless arrests in Western Mindanao, then the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus, if not de-facto martial law, may not very far behind," the alliance warned.

The MCPA further said the military crackdown might result to the abuse of power by law enforcers and local officials in Basilan. The Commission on Human Rights in Western Mindanao has accused the military of conducting illegal arrests.

'Ganda points'

Lidasan said Arroyo might just be after "ganda points" for her upcoming state of the nation address to be delivered when Congress resumes session next week. She said Arroyo's ousted predecessor was just after "pogi points" in staging a similar attack against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan last year. Last year, 61 Moro construction workers suspected as bombers or Abu Sayyaf members were arrested, Lidasan pointed out.

"After months in detention, it is only now that the military and police are pinpointing former PNP Chief Panfilo Lacson as behind the series of bombings last year," the statement said. "Her (Arroyo) administration's drastic actions against the civilians in Basilan and Sulu may only fuel the climate of fear and conflict between Muslims and Christians in that region," the MCPA warned.

About 100 people have been arrested on the southern islands of Basilan and Sulu and in Zamboanga city since the announcement of an intensified government crackdown and they were being questioned, according to the military, although presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao put the figure at 71.

Tiglao told reporters Sunday that of the 71 arrested, 30 had been freed due to "weak evidence" while the rest would be charged with conspiracy to a crime. He said soldiers were under instruction to be "very, very careful" in making arrests, adding that those picked up would be assigned public defenders to protect their rights. Arroyo was expecting a report on the operation within 60 days. If at that time she thought there was still a "state of lawlessness," the operation would continue, Tiglao said.

Gaining support

Army spokesman Major Alberto Gepilano, meanwhile, rejected the concerns of human rights groups and said the crackdown was gaining support from locals, many of whom he said had also fallen victim to the Abu Sayyaf. "Criminal charges will be filed against those who were arrested," Gepilano said. "It is the civilians who are providing the authorities with information about the Abu Sayyaf."

The military said it was expecting to arrest more suspects soon, following the seizure of several Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Nadjmi Sabdulla, alias Commander Global. Sabdulla, caught on July 8, was described as one of the core leaders of the group, which last year abducted dozens of European, Malaysian and Filipino hostages whom they then ransomed off for millions of dollars.

On May 27 this year, Abu Sayyaf gunmen snatched 20 American and Filipino hostages from a western Philippine beach resort, seizing more later as they escaped a cordon of 5,000 troops scouring Basilan's jungles. Several hostages have been freed, although the rebels killed four Filipinos and claimed to have beheaded Californian Guillermo Sobero, although his body has not been found.

Mayors, governments, councilors and other government officials have been warned not to mediate for the payment of ransom for the remaining hostages in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf as they would be arrested and charged for conspiring with kidnappers. Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza said the scheme is part of the Arroyo administration's "new approach" in addressing not only the Abu Sayyaf problem but also the other kidnap gangs in the island.

Dureza said the government is currently "building up the evidence" on certain people who are involved or have supported kidnap for ransom groups in Central Mindanao.


"The full force of the law" will be applied on supporters and mediators of kidnappers in Central Mindanao to serve as warning, Dureza announced during his regular Sunday program "Jess Dureza Live" over radio dxDC. "I'm announcing this because government now has a clear policy towards groups or individuals aiding the kidnappers," he said in Filipino. He said mediators who consider kidnap-for-ransom activities like a "cottage industry" by earning commissions from ransom should watch out as government agents are keeping an eye on them.

"Those who are mediating to earn, you cannot reason out later that you were just helping the victim's family to have their relative freed," Dureza said. Human rights groups like Karapatan had earlier cautioned government against the policy, saying this would open the "floodgates to abuses" and sow intrigues and disunity among poor and innocent Moro farmers.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Western Mindanao also criticized the ongoing crackdown in Basilan claiming that the arrests are illegal because these were made without warrants. Dureza said they welcome these criticisms to guard against abuses.

In a talk with religious and youth groups at St. Joseph Parish here Saturday, Dureza said the Department of Justice is fielding several prosecutors in Basilan to prepare and file appropriate charges against suspected Abu Sayyaf supporters. (Sunnex/wires)

Diigo, July 19, 2001, Sun Star, Sayyaf mass base support collapses,

ZAMBOANGA -- The government's crackdown on the Abu Sayyaf supporters and sympathizers on urban centers has caused the collapse of the bandits' mass base support, a military official said here yesterday. Armed Forces Southern Command spokesman Danilo Servando said support to the bandit group has diminished since the crackdown started in urban centers.

"The crackdown gave an adverse affect on the bandits who have been on the run because of the continuous military operation," Servando said. "We are draining the pond of their (bandit) supply," he added. The arrested supporters and sympathizers were allegedly the ones supplying food and information to the Abu Sayyaf who are still holding 22 captives including American couple Martin and Gracia Brunham in Mount Sampinit, Basilan.

This, as the military has neutralized a total of 104 Abu Sayyaf members, supporters and sympathizers since the government's renewed campaign against the bandits. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding captive 20 people. Sixty- two supporters and sympathizers out of the 104 neutralized Abu Sayyaf bandits, supporters and sympathizers were apprehended in the massive crackdown in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and in Zamboanga city that started Friday last week.

Of the 62, 41 were arrested in Basilan, 17 in Sulu and four in Zamboanga city. A total of 24 bandits died, 11 wounded, and seven captured. The military has suffered 100 casualties - 24 soldiers killed and 76 wounded - on separate skirmishes in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

The latest apprehension of suspected bandit members and supporters occurred last Tuesday wherein five, including an ex-Army and a bandit henchman, were arrested. Three of them were collared in Basilan, one in Sulu and one in Zamboanga city.

Basilan police director Ahmadul Pangambayan identified the ex-Army as Henry Torres and bandit henchman Kusain Indat. Torres is said to be an intelligence personnel of the Abu Sayyaf. Both the suspects were arrested around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday by the 909th Provincial Mobile Group led by Supt. Akmad Amli in a motorized banca terminal along Strong Boulevard, Isabela city.

The terminal caters for motorized bancas that ply to Malamawi island, the homeplace of Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya. Pangambayan said Torres, 40, a motorize banca operator, denied that he is a member of the Abu Sayyaf and claimed that he left the military service and went into business after he married a native from Malamawi.

July 26, 2001, Sun Star Cagayan, Abu problem affects R-10 tourism: Neda, by Terry C. Betonio,

CAGAYAN -- A top executive of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) in Region 10 confirmed the tourism industry in the region has been greatly affected by the Abu Sayyaf problem since last year. Neda regional director Raymundo Fonollera said tourism in this part of Mindanao, though very far from where the conflict is, is still being affected as evidenced by the decline in tourist arrivals.

For the first quarter of this year, travelers to Region 10 decreased by about 14.2 percent compared to the same period last year, with only 102,372 travelers this year as against 119,340 last year. Of the number, domestic visitors figured a 13 percent drop, from 112,125 in 2000 to only 97,508 this year, while foreign visitors made a 32.6 percent plunge, from 7,215 last year to 4,864 this year.

However, Fonollera said the problem on Abu Sayyaf is "beyond our control." This, he added, because the problem now lies totally on "perception." "Some ambassadors in Manila even told their colleagues not to visit Mindanao. So we hope nga ma-pulverize na sila kay kung dili na mahimo, apektado gyud ta," Fonollera said.

Data from the Neda showed that foreign travelers to the region in the first quarter of this year mostly came from the United States, Japan, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands. Balikbayans only shared 4.4 percent of the arrivals.

Except for Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, which increased arrivals by 12 percent, 15.47 percent, 23 percent and 13.73 percent, respectively, the rest of the foreign market dropped by as much as 10 percent (US) to a very alarming 84 percent (Italy). The data also showed that hotel occupancy rate in Cagayan de Oro for the period was estimated at 50 percent. The decline in tourist arrivals pulled the hotel occupancy rate to a further decline, by 6.5 percentage points.

Diigo, July 27, 2001, Sun Star Zamboanga, Abu Sayyaf gains from inquiry, by Bong Garcia Jr.

ZAMBOANGA -- Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Diomedio Villanueva admitted that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is gaining momentum in its propaganda from the congressional inquiry conducting a probe on some military officials who were accused of collaborating with the bandits in Basilan province.

Villanueva, who was present during the congressional inquiry Saturday in Isabela City, Basilan, said some of the civilians including those who testified were made to believe by the bandits that it they (bandits) have contacts with the military during the June 2 church and hospital siege in Lamitan town.

He cited the point that was raised by Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez during the congressional inquiry about bandit spokesman Abu Sabaya pretending to be talking with someone through a satellite phone inside the Jose Maria Torres Memorial Hospital building.

Dominguez emphasized that it was impossible for Sabaya to use the satellite phone inside the building as the unit (satellite phone) does not work in- doors. Dominguez said that even cellular phones will not work in Lamitan town as there is no signal in the place due to the absence of cellular site.

"At the extent, the Abu Sayyaf has benefited from these allegations. But in the long run, this will favor us," Villanueva said. Villanueva urged the congress to hasten the inquiry on the accusation hurled against the military by Fr. Cirilo Nacorda so that the soldiers could focus on its main task in getting the bandits, who are still holding hostage 19 people including American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham.

"Right now, we have to admit na hampered kami. But in the interest to clear the air, I think this is necessary," he said. Meanwhile, House Committee on Defense and Security chair, Rep. Prospero Pichay, has urged other lawmakers to refrain from giving deadlines to the military in its campaign against the bandits. Pichay's call came after Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr, chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense and Security, issued a statement last week that the military should resolve the Abu Sayyaf problem within 90 days. "I cannot understand why an honorable senator will issue such statement. Kararating mo land ditto and you don't know the real situation," Pichay said.

He said that while it is true the military offensive is taking time, "they (Abu Sayyaf) are a moving target. It is not like Camp Abu Bakkar were the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have to defend a territory." He sees the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf as "a matter of timing and good intelligence network to pinpoint the enemies before engagement."

Pichay said his committee will find out the real situation and believed that the military operations is not the only solution to the Abu Sayyaf problem. "We should dig deeper as to why some Basilan natives resort to banditry and kidnappings," he said. Pichay believe that pouring more development and educating the people could be one of the best long term solution to the bandit problem in Basilan. He also cited that political bickering would also be one factor that hampers the development of Basilan, thus, affecting the solution to the Abu Sayyaf problem.

November 26, 2001, Sun Star, Gov't probes Misuari link to Sipadan hostage crisis,

ZAMBOANGA -- Authorities are investigating renegade Muslim Leader Nur Misuari, who was arrested in Malaysia over the weekend, for links to the notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang, Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said Sunday.

Gladdened by Misuari's arrest, President Arroyo said she wished to see him languish in jail in Malaysia than be returned to the Philippines, where over 100 people died last week in the rebellion he allegedly led. Malaysia, though, plans to deport Misuari back to the Philippines as soon as possible and not charge him with illegal entry, said Deputy Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawin remarks published Sunday.

Reyes, meanwhile, said the military has confirmed that Misuari formed an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf, which helped his followers stage coordinated attacks on military posts in the town of Jolo last week that left at least 113 people dead. "It has been confirmed that Misuari confederated with elements of the Abu Sayyaf in conducting this attack," Reyes told reporters in Zamboanga City.

Reyes said the military was also investigating Misuari's possible involvement in an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping spree last year when the gunmen seized dozens of foreign and local hostages in Jolo. Misuari, who is outgoing governor of a Muslim autonomous region, launched the attack last week in an apparent attempt to prevent the holding of elections November 26 to select his replacement. The rebellion was quickly crushed and Misuari along with six companions was arrested Saturday by Malaysian authorities after fleeing Jolo.

Sipadan incident

Malaysian authorities are also reportedly investigating Misuari over information that he furnished weapons and transport to Abu Sayyaf gunmen when they snatched mostly foreigner hostages from a Sipadan resort in Malaysia on April 2000. Presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said Malaysia's interest in Misuari actually started "a long time ago." "We have been informed unofficially that the Malaysian authorities would want to question him and even probably charge him for having been involved in the Sipadan incident," Tiglao said.

One strong lead the Malaysian government is looking into is the use by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen of a volvo engine for their Kumpit (motorized banca) when they discreetly entered the Sipadan beach report and snatched 21 tourists and workers. Asked if Malaysia's investigation over Misuari's involvement in the Sipadan hostage crisis has been going on for sometime now, Tiglao said: "That's right.. Misuari's group is frequently seen in Sabah. There was an information that the volvo engines used in the Sipadan (hostage taking) were purchased in Sabah."

Misuari's link to the Abu Sayyaf, Golez meantime said, became clearer when he was discovered to have met several times with bandit leaders responsible for the Sipadan kidnapping. Military officials in the Philippines found out that the Abu Sayyaf helped in the attack on Jolo military and police outposts last week.

Golez echoed Arroyo's statement that the government would wait until Malaysia was ready to turn over Misuari to the country. "We have to respect the authority of Malaysia since number one, he (Misuari) was captured by Malaysian authorities within Malaysian territory and apparently Malaysian laws were violated," Golez stressed.

Key polls

Following his arrest, President Arroyo said key polls in Armm on Monday should be peaceful. Amid tight security, some 1.3 million voters are expected to take part in the balloting for key Armm posts. "With Misuari gone, I think the return to normalcy would be very rapid," Arroyo said, noting that his arrest would ease security fears among Armm voters and encourage them to vote. Misuari was the Armm governor until his suspension last week for allegedly masterminding a series of attacks on security installations in Jolo.

He is to be charged on his return home with leading a rebellion, which carries a maximum 20-year jail term. Misuari reportedly staged the revolt after Arroyo backed a rival faction in his Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for the Armm governor's post.

While the foreign affairs and justice departments have been instructed to "work closely with the Malaysian government" to effect Misuari's repatriation to Manila, Arroyo said she personally preferred that the renegade governor be kept in a Malaysian jail. "We will let Malaysia investigate him first for the violation of their own laws and charge him, dispose of him in accordance with their own laws," Arroyo said while visiting the Quiapo district in Manila. She said his arrest bolstered Malaysia's and the Philippines' "determination to work on terrorism around our common borders and common seas."

Handed over

Malaysia Deputy Premier Badawi, who is also home minister in charge of police, was quoted Sunday as saying that Misuari would be handed over to Manila in the spirit of cooperation between the two neighboring members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). "If he is kept in Malaysia, we will be accused of harboring him or even meddling in the internal affairs of the Philippines," he said.

"The Philippine government wants him. We will send him back." Malaysia's police chief Norian Mai also said Saturday that plans were being made to deport Misuari to avert any threats to national security. Misuari and six of his followers were arrested before dawn Saturday on Jampiras island off Sabah state for entering Malaysia illegally via Jolo island in the southern Philippines.
Jampiras is the island closest to the Philippine-Malaysia international boundary and about 30 minutes by boat from the Sabah town of Sandakan. A spokesman at the federal police headquarters in Malaysia said the group was being held in Sabah, north of Borneo island, but declined to give details. "They are still under custody. There is no new development at the moment," the spokesman said. Details, however, were sketchy as to when Misuari would be deported to the Philippines.


The renegade governor last year briefly served as a negotiator for the hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo, but he proved ineffective and was swiftly replaced by the government. All but one of the hostages held in Jolo have since been recovered or released. About a hundred Abu Sayyaf members in Jolo took part in Misuari's brief rebellion last week, Reyes said.

Another Abu Sayyaf faction in the nearby island of Basilan is still holding an American missionary couple and a Filipina nurse snatched in a fresh kidnapping spree this year. The regional military chief, Lieutenant General Roy Cimatu said: "We expect some good news in the next several days on the case of the remaining hostages."

Reyes, who flew to Jolo island on Sunday from Zamboanga City to personally oversee security preparations, said Misuari's remaining forces in Jolo were "dispersed, demoralized... and largely disillusioned because their leader has left them." "Misuari has violated Malaysian laws... and he is considered by no less than the prime minister of Malaysia himself as a threat to national security," Reyes added.

Reyes said he would not rule out harassment activities by remaining Misuari forces but doubted they could stage any major operation. Over 100 Misuari followers continue to occupy a government hilltop complex overlooking Zamboanga city, with about two battalions of troops surrounding them, officials said. Some 6,000 soldiers are guarding vital installations in Jolo to prevent another attack by Misuari followers, said to have already sent in surrender feelers after their leader went to Malaysia. (Sunnex/AFP)

April 1, 2002, Sun Star Davao, Investors eye Samal Casino Resort, but...,

INVESTORS from South Korea, the United States, and within the country have been visiting to discuss prospects of either leasing or acquiring the P1.2 billion high-end Samal Casino Resort Hotel in the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) which closed down at the height of deposed president Joseph Estrada's "all-out war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Sipadan hostage-taking of the Abu Sayyaf in 2000.

Igacos Mayor Rogelio Antalan said most often the investors take a close look at the resort and declare their interest but have yet to match this with action. He said the visits came soon after Malaysia's Ekran Berhad, owners of Samal Casino Resort, closed it down.

Antalan said even Estrada visited Samal Casino in October 2000 with officials of the Wellex Group of Companies of his friend William Gatchalian. A team of US investors and South Koreans also came and checked out the resort last year, he said. Antalan said another group of South Koreans represented by their Filipino partners, the Makati City-based Joy Enterprises and Service Corp., came over and took some video of the resort.

Antalan said the group is interested in leasing or acquiring the resort because they asked how to contact Ekran Berhad. He said senior officials of Joy Enterprises told him Samal Casino would be highly profitable especially for South Korean holiday-goers. He said South Koreans are also eyeing the acquisition of a golf course within Southeast Asia since there is large market for it in their country.

South Koreans, he added, are "dead serious" in enhancing the skills of their golfers but their trainings are often cut short during the long autumn and winter months, "so they need to have a golf course where they can play the whole year round. That is why they find Samal Casino an interesting place." Samal Casino does not have any golf course as yet but its blueprint allotted space for two 18-hole golf courses within the 250-hectare resort. Antalan said Ekran Berhad had also expressed interest to reopen the resort but would sell if the price were reasonable. Ekran has not quoted any price but it spent about P1.2 billion in leasing the 250-hectare land from agrarian reform beneficiaries and in developing the hotels' 300-rooms, swimming pool, a jetty, a 2,000-seater ballroom, sports facilities and casino.

"But we are yet to hear from all of them (Ekran and the investors)," the mayor said. Antalan said they are still trying to find out why interested firms have not contacted them again. He did admit that the Davao City Government is still working on Ekran Berhad's demand for a better waste management and fresh water systems in the island so it would be more cost effective to operate the resort. Antalan said he would meet with David Chew, Ekran Berhad's general manager, this month. (MindaNews)

Diigo, November 14, 2002, Sun Star, Sayyaf demands P16M for 7 hostages,

ZAMBOANGA -- Abu Sayyaf rebels are demanding P16 million in ransom for seven hostages, including three Indonesians, being held somewhere in Mindanao, officials said Wednesday. But the military said the demand was rejected and that troops have been ordered to intensify efforts to track down the gunmen. The ransom demand was relayed to Gov. Yusop Jikiri of Jolo, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold in the south where it is believed the hostages are being held in a jungle camp.

"We will not negotiate with the terrorists and we will not pay ransom. There is a strict no-ransom policy," Armed Forces spokesman Eduardo Purificacion said. Abu Sayyaf rebels are using the hostages as "human shields against pursuing soldiers" as they transfer from one hideout to another, Purificacion said. "Troops have difficulty in tracking down the kidnappers and their hostages because they are highly mobile. The jungle terrain is thick and visibility is only 10 meters," he said.

The Indonesians were seized in June from a coal barge passing through the southern Philippines, while the four Filipinas, who are members of the Jehovah's Witness religious group, were kidnapped in August. The Abu Sayyaf was founded in the early 1990s by Islamic firebrand Abdurajak Janjalani, who was killed in a gun battle with Philippine authorities in 1998. His youngest brother Khadaffy Janjanjalani took over his post as the self-styled Islamic fighters slipped into banditry and kidnappings.

Abu Sayyaf militants were also partly blamed for a wave of bomb attacks that killed over a dozen people, including a US soldier, in the southern Philippines this month. Manila and Washington have both linked the Abu Sayyaf to the al-Qaeda network of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. US Special Forces early this year were deployed in Mindanao to train Filipino soldiers to combat the Abu Sayyaf. About 300 US troops are expected to return to the Philippines in February for the next phase of the joint anti-terrorism campaign, officials said. AFP

July 12, 2003, Mindanews, MILF, Abu Sayyaf blamed in Koronadal bomb attack, by Bong S. Sarmiento & Jeoffrey B. Maitem,

KORONADAL CITY -- Authorities here on Friday tagged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf as behind the latest bomb attack at the public market here that killed three people and wounded at least 27 others.

This developed as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived here before noon to condole with the blast victims and to condemn the incident, so far the fourth bombing in this city since February.

Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, Interior Secretary Jose Lina Jr., Presidential Adviser on Strategic Concerns Renato de Villa and Mindanao crisis manager Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte accompanied Ms Arroyo.

Supt. Jose Gili, city police chief, told reporters that Thursday’s bomb attack was carried out by combined elements of the MILF and the bandit group Abu Sayyaf after the local government unit failed to give protection money to the armed groups.

“Based on our intelligence efforts, the bomb attack was carried out by the MILF in tandem with the Abu Sayyaf. The motive is extortion,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits, headed by Khadaffy Janjalani, have reportedly arrived in a coastal municipality of Sultan Kudarat province a few days ago, according to 601st Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Alexander Yano.

Gili said the reported arrival of the Abu Sayyaf in Palimbang town, where the MILF was also reported to maintain a presence, was their basis on pinning the blame to the Islamic groups.

But MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu denied involvement in the latest bomb attack here. He said the MILF abhors terrorist activities that inflict damage on civilians.

But Gili maintained that the MILF was involved in the latest explosion, saying that the way it was carried out “was similar to the three earlier bombings” at separate places in this city since February.

Gili defended the local policemen on accusation that they were negligent in their jobs. He said several policemen were at the area a few moments before the bomb exploded and that civil security unit personnel are constantly roving inside the public market.

President Arroyo vowed to give justice to the victims of the blast, which she condemned.

But she did not categorically blame the incident to the MILF. The government and the MILF are locked in a stalled peace talks.

“All the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Nothing in the peace process will deter us from punishing terrorists and bringing them to justice,” Ms Arroyo, clad in an outdoor working attire, told reporters at the public market.

“Terrorism could strike anywhere at anytime. The important thing is to care for the wounded, assist the victims’ families and strengthen the vigilance of the communities while the government takes the perpetrators into account,” she added.

In the series of explosions that rocked the country, the President said both Muslims and Christians have been victims of terrorism. Thus, both must have the solidarity to ensure the security of the whole community, she added.

From the market, the President and her convoy proceeded to a funeral parlor to visit the wake of one of the victims. She then proceeded to barangay General Paulino Santos to visit another family.

Later, she addressed the crowd at the Central Mindanao Regional Athletic Association Sports Complex where she reiterated that justice be served to the blast victims.

She also lauded the local officials for pushing through with the scheduled activities for the week-long celebration of the province’s 37th foundation anniversary.

Despite the bombing, a parade was held today to officially mark the start of the T’nalak Festival, which would culminate on July 18.

In a related incident, the military started a pursuit operation on Thursday to run after a big group of Abu Sayyaf bandits sighted in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province.

Maj. Julieto Ando, spokesman of the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division, said hundreds of Special Forces troopers were deployed in the province to hunt down a group of 80 bandits led by Khadaffy Janjalani, the elusive head of the Abu Sayyaf.

Ando theorized that Janjalani’s group might be seeking refuge in an MILF camp in the municipality.

Palimbang Mayor Labualas Mamansual, in his report to Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza, said Janjalani’s group used three pumpboats in cruising from Zamboanga del Norte to Barangay Libua in Palimbang.

Ando said the pumpboats were recovered later by pursuing military troopers.

July 7, 2005, Sunstar, Army scours Maguindanao for Janjalani, Abu Sayyaf, by Ben O. Tesiorna,

A MAJOR military operation is now ongoing in the mountains of Maguindanao province in search for the Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani and some 30 of his men and other suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah.

Colonel Mario Chan, chief of staff of the Army's 6th Infantry Division based in Awang, Cotabato City, said they started their massive operation last Sunday after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair declared the areas of North and South Upi in Maguindanao as a "free zone area" meaning there are no MILF regulars operating there.

Chan said they have intelligence reports that Janjalani and his men are hiding in the area after being driven away by the MILF from their controlled areas.

Chan, however, admitted they are having a hard time locating the Abu Sayyaf bandits due to the lush vegetation in the area coupled with harsh terrain and bad weather conditions.

At the moment, attack helicopters are scouring the area for possible sightings on the rebels. (with Peng Aliño)

September 1, 2005, Sun Star, Official: Mindanao like a 'terrorist academy',

MANILA -- A security official said Mindanao "is like a terrorist academy" with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) trainees taught how to make bombs, plant them, then set them off in test missions designed to help militants perfect their techniques to complete the course.

JI, al-Qaeda's Southeast Asian ally, is sharing bomb-making expertise with Muslim militants in the Philippines, providing at least nine explosive designs and eight chemical recipes to help ragtag insurgents become more lethal, police and military authorities also told the Associated Press.

The results: 116 people killed in the country's worst terror attack, a series of high-tech explosions and close cooperation among local and foreign militants using Mindanao as a training ground following the loss of al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

While US-backed offensives have overrun established camps in the Mindanao region in the last couple of years, training by al-Qaeda-linked Indonesian operatives continued on a limited basis with militants setting up classes and plotting attacks, reports said.

Bomb testing

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secretive nature of the information, said JI militants appear to be continuously testing new designs and explosives mixtures. Previously, many Philippine militants, especially Abu Sayyaf rebels, had relied on simple hand and rocket-propelled grenades to attack civilian targets.

Investigators looking into Sunday's bombing of a passenger ferry in Basilan island that injured at least 30 people, said it appeared to be designed more to sow panic than kill, but that it was too early to speculate on the design.

A number of recent bombs--pieced together from fragments found at attack sites or recovered from Philippine rebel hideouts--carry JI's signature: the use of electronics, including Indonesian-designed integrated circuit boards, and cell phones that allow more efficiency and flexibility as triggers, according to several investigation reports seen by AP.


Making detection difficult, the attackers use mundane items--a TV set, egg cartons, a tin of cookies, even a tube of toothpaste, a roll-on deodorant or shampoo bottle--to hide the bombs and their components.

More powerful chemical mixtures not used before by local militants also have been detected at bombing scenes in recent years, the reports said.

The new mixtures give the militants more leeway in attaining a particular effect. Some spark fires to scare extortion targets; others are designed to kill and destroy.

Authorities said they have detected evidence of al-Qaeda and JI "training and technology transfer" in bomb devices for the past four or five years.

Such international cooperation and terror technology exchanges is not entirely new, reports said.

When police in 1995 raided the Manila apartment of Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, they found several juice bottles filled with the same powerful explosives used in that attack and a brand of quartz alarm clock later used in a bombing in Iraq.

Most of the bombs used in attacks in the Philippines and Indonesia are believed to have been designed by Jl's top experts, including Pitono, a Bali bombing suspect and electronics expert also known as Dulmatin, the reports said.

The army has been hunting for Dulmatin, along with at least nine other Indonesian militants, in Mindanao, where he it thought to have joined the group of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khaddafy Janjalani, the military said.

Philippine authorities have detected mostly cell phone-triggered explosives while poring over bloody scenes of attacks by the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the last five years, according to investigation reports.

The Indonesians also have passed on the formulas of at least eight powerful explosive chemical mixtures, the reports said, and authorities in both countries have found identical bombs rigged the same way in the metal frames of two strikingly similar bicycles.

Baby al-Qaedas

Local militants--many young peasants with limited schooling--appear to be struggling with the new technology. Blunders have fouled up some attacks, including a homemade bomb that prematurely exploded in a backpack two years ago, killing the rebel toting it.

Filipino militants have not yet undertaken suicide missions, although there is evidence that they have acquired knowledge to make body-worn explosives and truck and car bombs. Car bombs used in an attack at Manila's airport in December 2000 and an airport in southern Cotabato city in February 2003 appear to have been set off by timers, security officials said.

"We call them baby al-Qaedas," an official said. "We have no reason to believe that they are already experts."

An 11-pound TNT firebomb crammed in a TV set that went off on a passenger ferry in Manila Bay last year, killing 116 people in the Philippines' worst terror attack, employed a Jemaah Islamiyah bomb design that could be set off by an alarm clock or a cell phone.

The clock was set to trigger the bomb in seven hours but it went off sooner, leading investigators to believe that a cell phone was used to trigger the blast, the reports said.

Philippine authorities arrested and charged the suspected attacker--Habil Dellosa, a Filipino Muslim convert who authorities say is an Abu Sayyaf member trained by Indonesian militants.

Three bombs, concealed in empty cell phone cases and found in a mall in southern General Santos city in March 2004, used new Jemaah Islamiyah-designed electronic timing circuits and small amounts of new explosive mixtures using TNT powder and potassium chlorate that indicated the militants were testing its features, authorities said.

Authorities believe Abu Sayyaf trainees crafted the bombs as a graduation test from explosives training. The mall had received an Abu Sayyaf extortion letter, a security official familiar with the incident told AP.

Guerrillas have used common household items to disguise their new lethal weapons. A mortar time bomb that killed a child and wounded eight others in a bus terminal in southern Davao City on Feb. 14 was concealed in a hole punched through a stack of egg trays topped by real eggs.

Other bombs were hidden in a Malaysian biscuit can, gift boxes and ordinary bags. A pink plastic lunch box with flower designs, found in a public market in southern Cotabato city, contained a small mortar round that could have gone off. Police found bomb parts in toothpaste tubes and roll-on deodorant containers in a raided Manila rebel hideout early this year. (AP)

September 6, 2005, MindaNews, Abu Sayyaf involved on Lamitan ferry bombing, Bong Garcia Jr.,

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Investigators of the August 28 ferry bombing in Lamitan, Basilan province were inclined to believe that it was the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group which pulled off the bombing

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director, Supt. Gregorio Pimentel, said here Monday over RGMA-Super Radyo Zamboanga that leads, including the way and gravity of the incident, showed that the Abu Sayyaf was behind the bombing.

Pimentel said what they need were testimonies of the victims to corroborate the information of some witnesses to be able to file the cases in court against the suspects.

But many of those who may corroborate the testimonies remained under medical treatment and can not be extracted statements.

He refused to name any of the suspects but said: "we have inputs and accounts on who are the suspects.”

Supt. Jose Bayani Gucela, chief of the Zamboanga Police’s explosive and ordinance demolition, said the bomb that exploded aboard M/V Doña Ramona was a low explosive category.

Gucela said that the triggering devise that contained gunpowder was an improvised safety switch.

Gucela and Pimentel were part of the Task Force Lamitan formed by National Police Chief, Director-General Arturo Lomibao to handle the investigation of the M/V Doña Ramona bombing.
The ferry, M/V Doña Ramona of the Basilan Lines Incorporated, was about to sail to this city from Lamitan when a bomb exploded at around 7:00 am beside the canteen of the vessel’s lower deck.

Of the 26 people injured, two of them, including a 12-year-old boy, died in the hospital. Eight of the injured were brought to Davao City for further medical treatment. The 294.64 gross tonnage M/V Doña Ramona carrir 263 passengers with 31 crew, including two soldiers detailed as the vessel’s security escorts at the time of the incident.

Index of /Archives/2004/Sunstar/October/07
Parent Directory
Arroyo backs moves to rationalize peace, dev't efforts in Mindanao.txt
Group seeks development, operation of Sta. Ana.txt
Livelihood programs urged to address prostitution.txt
More call centers to be set up here.txt
No Balikatan in Davao, US ambassador assures.txt
Ricciardone admits 'espionage' charge.txt
There's nothing in Davao worth spying on-US envoy.txt

June 11, 2008, Sun Star Davao, Interfaith prayer for release of peace worker today

AN INTERFAITH prayer gathering will be held at the Ateneo de Davao University Jacinto campus at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The holding of the rally coincides with the call of peace advocates in Davao City for the safe and unconditional release of Mindanao Peace Caucus (MPC) chair Octavio Dinampo and his companions, ABS-CBN anchor Ces Oreña-Drilon and her two crewmembers. The group was abducted by armed men believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu at past midnight Sunday.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

While details of the abduction have been kept under wraps, peace workers here are holding on to prayers as their last resort.

In its official statement posted at Tuesday, ABS-CBN confirmed that their three employees, Drilon, Jimmy Encarnacion, and Angelo Valderama, are missing in Sulu.

The company said "all efforts are underway to find them and bring them home."

"Until we learn more details, ABS-CBN News requests other media to report on this matter with utmost consideration for the safety of our news team. ABS-CBN News is in touch with the families and asks that their privacy be respected," the company statement read.

Government officials are meanwhile abiding by ABS-CBN's request as they refused to give any details or be officially quoted as source of information regarding the abduction.

So far, sketchy reports showed that Dinampo's group was abducted at Barangay Kulasi in Maimbung town by a group of armed men under Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad.

Drilon and her crew reportedly arrived in Jolo last Saturday on the invitation of Dinampo of the Mindanao State University "to cover a special event."

Dinampo served as guide of Drilon's group, who stayed at the Sulu State College Hostel.

At past midnight Sunday, Dinampo picked Drilon and her colleagues from the university hostel and they were said to be aboard a jeepney for an unknown destination when waylaid and seized in Barangay Kulasi.

Talks are rife that the kidnappers are demanding a P10 million ransom in exchange for the freedom of Dinampo, Drilon, and the cameramen, but this claim could not be independently verified.

This is the second time that a journalist from ABS-CBN was kidnapped in Sulu. In 2000, ABS-CBN reporter Maan Macapagal and her cameraman, Val Cuenca, were also kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

Dinampo is also co-convener of the Mindanao Peace Weavers, a network of organizations advocating peace in Mindanao. He also heads Tulong Lupah Sur (TLS), which is a Jolo-based non-government organization, and is a former professor of the Mindanao State University in Jolo.

He has also written some articles based on his interviews with Abu Sayyaf forces. Some of these articles were published in several papers Original Link:


December 14, 2008, Sun Star, 3 killed, 3 snatched in Basilan attack

ZAMBOANGA -- Armed militants stormed a house in Lamitan town in Basilan province Saturday, killing two members of a militia group and a woman before kidnapping three other civilians, the military said.

The military blamed the attack on al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists, but local officials said another separatist group was responsible.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Lt. Steffani Cacho, spokeswoman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said it was not clear what triggered the attack on Basilan island.

Militants used the three civilians as human shields and kidnapped them as they fled from pursuing troops, she said.

Local officials in Basilan's Lamitan township said the attack forced about 600 villagers to flee from their homes and seek refuge in a public school building.

Cacho said military reports showed Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the attack on the militia members. Armed civilian groups are common throughout the country to assist authorities fighting various rebel movements.

Lamitan officials, meanwhile, said suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim separatist group, carried out the attack.

They had been negotiating with the government for self-rule in the south, but talks collapsed after the failed signing of Muslim ancestral domain accord which triggered major attacks of Muslim militants in civilian communities in Mindanao in August this year.

Abu Sayyaf has been behind a string of kidnappings for ransom, including of European and Americans. The group, on a US list of terrorist organizations with links to al-Qaida, has also plotted bombings and beheaded hostages.

The military has accused the Moro rebels - who have been waging a decades-long war for self-rule in the southern Philippines - of having a tactical alliance with Abu Sayyaf. Moro front leaders deny the charge.

In Compostela Valley, a leader of a crime ring and two of his members died while three policemen were wounded following a shootout Friday night, a police reported Saturday.

Provincial Police Director Ronald dela Rosa named one of the slain suspects as Emmanuel Quijano, alias Djangla, the alleged leader of the Djangla Group. The names of Quijano's cohorts were not immediately known.

Dela Rosa said operations of the Compostela Valley Provincial Police Office and National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) swooped down in Sitio Guibawa, Osmeña village in Compostela town at 8 p.m. to serve an arrest warrant on Quijano.

But Quijano, who is wanted for murder and drug peddling, and his men fought it out with the lawmen, ensuing a firefight.

Dela Rosa said the suspects were able to lob a grenade at the policemen, resulting in the wounding of three of them.

The wounded police officers were Randy Pingol, Diomedis Villanueva, and Allan Ruiz.

Ruiz was last reported in critical condition, according to Dela Rosa.

The lawmen recovered at the scene two caliber 45 pistols, one live fragmentation hand grenade and several sachets of powder substance believed to be shabu, weighing at least 300 grams. (VR/AP/Sunnex)

For more Philippine news, visit Sun.Star Cebu.


December 15, 2008, Sun Star Davao, MILF agrees to end use of kids in war

DAVAO CITY -- The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has agreed to end its use of child soldiers in its battle for self-rule in Mindanao, an official of the United Nations (UN) said.

UN special representative for children and armed conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said that in a meeting with the MILF leadership recently, the Moro rebel group has agreed to enter into an action plan with a UN country team to ensure the separation of children in their ranks and their return to civilian life.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Coomaraswamy visited the MILF last week following reports and videotapes showing children among the Moro rebels.

She told reporters in Manila that the negotiations will begin for an action plan. "The action plan has to be time bound, concrete, and has to have a process of verification."

She said if the MILF follows through on this commitment, it could give the Moro rebels a sense of legitimacy and boost the chances of a negotiated peace.

Action plan

Coomaraswamy said the UN and the MILF "hope to begin the action plan in January."

The action plan will include the inspection of MILF camps by a UN team.

Coomaraswamy said the inspection will be done to check how many children are there. She hopes it will be done immediately so that a report can be submitted to the UN Secretary-General at the end of February.

Asked why the UN was optimistic the MILF would live up to its commitment, she replied: "You'd be surprised that in some of our dealings with rebel groups in Africa, they see themselves not as rebel groups but as leaders of whole provinces, nations. They want that legitimacy. They don't want to be on some terrorist list, that's for sure."

Coomaraswamy arrived in the country last week to meet with various groups and organizations involved in the conflict and those looking after the welfare of child combatants.

The meeting with the MILF was held at the office of Ghazali Jaafar, vice chairman for Political Affairs of the MILF Central Committee, in Simuay Sultan Kudarat last Thursday.

Rebels, government guilty

In a press conference in Manila last Friday, Coomaraswamy said the government and three rebel groups are guilty of recruiting children below the age of 18 in their ranks.

The MILF, Abu Sayyaf, and National People's Army (NPA) had been identified by the Security Council report as recruiting children to become soldiers.

The Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has also been found guilty of "recruiting children under 18."

"We also met one or two individuals who have been recruited by Cafgu. The government immediately agreed to send directives to all their commanders that no one at the age of 18 will be recruited. We hope that the commanders will comply," Coomaraswamy said.


Earlier, the MILF denied having child soldiers among its ranks, but admitted having some orphan boys under eight years old in its care.

This claim, however, was contradicted by the military, saying that aside from being combatants, the Moro rebel group has been using children as porters, guides or camp hands.

The London-based Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers -- in a report on earlier this year -- also said that up to 13 percent of the MILF's 12,000 strong force in 2005 were children.

Likewise, a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs-Integrated Regional Information Networks (Irin) said it has obtained declassified army intelligence documents showing the rebel group's use of children as "tough, self-reliant, fighting men."

This, however, was denied by the MILF.

In a report on Coomaraswany's visit to the MILF camp, Ghazali Jaafar, vice chairman for Political Affairs of the MILF Central Committee, insisted that children with the MILF were not recruited and being used for combat purposes.

He said the children's parents were killed in the course of the conflict in Mindanao, thus the rebel group takes care of them.

"These are children of our MILF commanders. Our commanders are living in our camps with their families and children because our camps are not really a military camp but a normal community where our people live normally. The presence of children in our camps is being misunderstood as having been recruited as child soldiers or combatants. The truth is they live there with their parents and they are not soldiers," he said.


Meanwhile, a military officer who requested anonymity said it is unfortunate that Coomaraswamy's time was "virtually" grabbed by the human rights group Karapatan.

"Is it not unfortunate that what is merely working against the AFP is the fact that they are considered amateurs in terms of documenting cases? That is, when compared to how Karapatan goes into so much detail in its reports and how the group can easily come up with witnesses to back up its claims. This and the fact that Karapatan virtually hogs the time of the UN Representative during the whole visit also compounds the problem of the AFP," the officer said.

The officer also said that government soldiers are the lone direct witnesses of the existence of child combatants of the NPA and the MILF in various parts of the country "and yet they are practically helpless in pulling these innocent children out of the rebel's traps."

The military officer lambasted the MILF and the NPA for allegedly giving support and recognition of the UN when they are the "ultimate culprits" responsible for the risk of thousand innocent lives in the battlefield. (Ben O. Tesiorna and Stella A. Estremera/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

For more Philippine news, visit Sun.Star Pampanga. (December 15, 2008 issue)


December 15, 2008, Sun Star Davao, MILF pooh-poohs gov't peace talks statements

THE National Government's statements on the alleged resumption of peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have not impressed the Muslim secessionist group, a Moro leader said.

Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF committee on information, branded the repeated announcements as nothing but part of government propaganda.

He said: "[These are] gimmicks in order to give false hope to the people, especially those in the conflict affected areas and the international community that the peace talks is going to be held."

Musa cited the earlier statement of government officials that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) would have a full peace panel before the middle of this month, "but so far only undersecretary of foreign affairs Rafael Seguis was appointed as government chief peace negotiator".

It was learned that the government set December 15 as the first schedule of talks. As of Monday, nothing has developed in the said talks.

"There is no full peace panel yet and the GRP again announced that the talks would take place on December 22. All these are empty talks," Musa said.

Musa warned the government "not to make hollow and repeated announcements for the resumption of the peace talks between them [MILF] when no such serious thing is in the offing or set for in the immediate future."

Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF peace panel secretariat, said the MILF has not received any official communication from the Malaysian government, the chief facilitator of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks, about any schedule of peace talks in December.

There were earlier suggestion for Indonesia to take over Malaysia as the talks' facilitator, but the MILF disapproved it. (BOT)

December 15, 2008, Sun Star Davao, Trial of policeman in kidnap case reset, by Carlo P. Mallo,

THE trial of a policeman accused of kidnapping did not push through Monday due to the absence of the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Prosecutor Trinidad dela Torre-Cardona was reportedly in a seminar Monday morning.

In the scheduled trial, the court is supposed to hear the motion to transfer two kidnap suspects to the Davao City Jail from their present detention cell inside the Davao City Police Office at Camp Leonor.

The motion stemmed from the letter of then Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Investigation and Detection Section Chief Joseph Sepulchre who said the two accused, Marvin Booc and Petronilo Ali, should be in their custody because they are the whistleblowers in the case.

Their co-accused, however, resent this, claiming the two were given special treatment at the DCPO and are even allowed to roam around the police headquarters.

In an order, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Jose Emmanuel Castillo earlier reset the trial initially scheduled last October 28, 29 and 30 against Police Officer 2 Kit Michael Sanz, traffic investigator of the Tugbok Police, his uncle Angelito Ventura Froilan, and Wendel Asentista, Marvin Booc and Petronilo Ali.

They are accused of kidnapping gasoline station owner, Edgar Barroso, on July 8, 2007 in Panacan, Davao City.

The accused earlier submitted a very urgent motion to quash information and for the conduct of preliminary investigation, claiming that their arrest was illegal.

The motion said their (accused) warrantless arrest came four days after the rescue operation of the victim, and the arrests were merely based on the statements of Marvin Digamon Booc, who happened to be one of the accused.

The accused, in their motion, said the arrest and conduct of inquest proceedings were borne out of the statements of Booc, which are inadmissible in court for being hearsay and even self-serving because there was no opportunity for the accused to confront their accusers.

December 18, 2008, Sun Star, 4 Abu Sayyaf bandits convicted,

DAVAO CITY -- A local court has convicted four Abu Sayyaf bandits for the killing of two people during a 2001 attack targeting Westerners at a popular resort in Davao del Norte.

Halik Abdani, Javier Sirri, and Yusop Saddai were each sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for the murders, according to a copy of the Pasig Regional Trial Court's decision.

The fourth man, Saltimar Sali, was sentenced to only 15 years in prison because he was a minor at the time of the attack, the court said.

The court also ordered the bandits to pay damages to the families of the victims.

Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes said the Abu Sayyaf bandits had planned to kidnap Western tourists at the Pearl Farms Resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte province in the May 2001 attack. Their speedboats, however, ran aground at low tide, a blunder noticed by guards who opened fire on them.

A guard and another resort worker were killed in a shootout before the bandits backed off, he said.

Authorities captured the suspects later, along with Abu Sayyaf commander Nadzmi Sabdullah and Abu Sayyaf gunman Jlashrey Abtani who turned state witness.

The case against Sabdullah was dismissed after he was killed during a 2005 attempt to escape from a maximum-security prison in Manila.

Reyes said the remaining 17 Abu Sayyaf gunmen involved in the attack remained at large.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has been linked to kidnappings, bombing, and beheadings, is on the US list of terrorist groups. The group has been crippled by US-backed military offensives but still remains a threat, especially in Mindanao, where it is based.

Military operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandits and the communist and Moro rebels in Mindanao continue. However, latest reports said the Armed Forces of the Philippine's Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-Eastmincom) welcomed the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Arroyo administration.

Major Randolph Cabangbang of the Eastmincom said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's declaration of suspension of military operations (Somo) was in consonance with the AFP's recommendation, and they would strictly comply with it.

He said it allows Eastmincom personnel to go on a holiday vacation after months of running after Abu Sayyaf bandits, New People's Army (NPA) rebels, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in several areas in Mindanao.

"The decision is both wise and balanced considering that it addresses two concerns -- it allows the military personnel to spend the holidays with their loved ones while at the same time allows gains in military operation (sustained)," Cabangbang said in a statement.

The AFP, however, assured the public that though there is a ceasefire, it does not mean the military is letting its guards down.

The unilateral ceasefire is, however, not due to the demand of the NPA and other sectors but a tradition by the government during the holiday season. The communist rebel group also declared a few days of ceasefire in the spirit of Christmas.

Malacañang on Tuesday declared that the unilateral ceasefire would take effect on December 24 to 25 and December 31 to January 1.


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