“It is their job to show the people there is basis for their saying there is a Jemaah Islamiyah cell in Sulu. In the absence of that, they cannot expect us to support the ongoing hostilities in Sulu,” Pimentel said in a statement.
He said knowledgeable sources have informed him that there are no JI agents in Mindanao.
“Nobody says they gave any Al Qaeda or JI agents training anybody in Muslim areas of Mindanao. I am apprehensive there may be some ploy behind the alleged presence of the JI to widen the war and lay the basis for the continued warfare in Mindanao. And I think if the US authorities say there are JI from Indonesia, they should produce evidence for that,” he said.
The senator said such information contradicted the claim of a military official that Indonesian terrorists Omar Patek and Dulmatin were moving in the company of Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.
Pimentel said the military operation has forced some 500 families in Indanan
town to evacuate.
But he noted that Ustadz Habier Malik, a high-ranking leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, denied claims that government troops clashed with MNLF fighters and that Abu Sayyaf members were involved.
“I am concerned about hostilities in Sulu that it has displaced so many unarmed citizens, non-combatants from their homes and farms because that makes for instability in that part of the country,” Pimentel said.
“And therefore my point is if there is JI cell there, they should come out openly and tell us who, what and where they are so things will clear up.”
Pimentel also told the American military not to get involved in combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf and other suspected terrorist groups on Mindanao.
“My view has always been that the US is welcome to this country to help promote peace, not to wage war. And therefore I do not approve of any military action on the part of the US in any part of the country because we are supposed to be a sovereign nation,” he said. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)