Ermita?s assistant secretary is among suspected bombers?

Lawyer Zen Malang, Director of the Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy in Cotabato City wants to know.

Akmad Bayam, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is among the respondents in the complaint for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder for allegedly perpetrating the October 10 Makilala bombing that killed six and injured 29 others.

Bayam, listed in the charge sheet as “Commander Akmad Bayam Abbas/Akmad Bayam” was charged along with Al Haj Murad (Ebrahim), chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), eight alleged MILF commanders and several others.

Reports in Cotabato City indicated Bayam was an assistant secretary in Ermita’s office, prompting Malang to do a research that he said yielded results that looked “very interesting to say the least.”

Ermita could not be reached for comment. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza told MindaNews he does not know if the suspect Bayam is the same Bayam in Ermita’s office.

Malang said there were identical articles published Sep. 26, 2006 on the Malaya and Sunstar websites identifying “Akmad Bayam,” a former MNLF commander, as an Asst. Secretary of Exec. Secretary Eduardo Ermita.  Malang noted that “Ermita even credits him for the release of a recent kidnap victim from Zamboanga.”

Malang said the photo gallery of the Office of the President website also shows “Assistant Secretary Ahmad Bayam” in the same photo with President Arroyo during the presentation of the kidnap victim from Zamboanga.

Malang also noted that the Commission on Elections website “also names Ahmad Bayam or Kagui Akmad as one of the official congressional candidates for the 1st district of Maguindanao in the 2004 elections.”

"At the height of the Senate investigation into the Garci(llano) tapes, Malaya and other papers identified him as a former staff working under Presidential Liaison Officer for Political Affairs Sec. Jose Ma. Rufino and as one of those who corroborated Zuce’s testimony, only to backtrack later on and accuse the opposition of offering to pay him off to corroborate Zuce,” Malang said.

“So, what do we make of the Makilala bombing cases then?” he asked in his e-mail to the mindanao1081 loop. “Either the bombings are traceable to someone from Ermita’s office or the officials of North Cotabato are so eager and dead-set on hastily filing a case against the MILF that they didn’t even bother to check what facts (or non-facts) they have?” Malang asked.

“It could also be someone is bent on making political mileage out of the tragedy no matter what, hence, the much publicized accusations and statements. Never mind if the accusations endanger the peace process so long as somebody gets free publicity and pogi points by exploiting people’s grief and fear. After all, congressional elections are just around the corner. Friends, take your pick,” Malang said.

Lawyer Datu Michael Mastura, MILF peace panel member noted that Bayam has been identified as “staff ni Ermita but naming Murad is to bind the government bundle of blunders.”

Mastura pointed to the statements of the top military and police officers – Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon and Philippine National Director-General Oscar Calderon that there were no evidences linking the MILF to the bombings “but the local (police) and fiscal (prosecutor) do the opposite. Credibility (of the government) is at stake.”

He lashed out at reports that a military informer called “imam,” reportedly a former MILF member who witnessed MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim order the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to conduct simultaneous bombings in Mindanao. Halata ngang (it’s obviously) fabricated. Spin doctors nila stupid!!! (Their spin doctors are stupid). JI doesn’t take orders from the MILF,” he said.

“When will evil doers learn?” Mastura asked. “The bombers are evil doers but the evil whisperers are more evil in intent,” he said. (MindaNews)