No pressure to drop Murad from case, says prosecutor

Prosecutor Al Calica, head of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force of the Department of Justice clarified that his seven-page order dated November 6 removing the name of the MILF chair from the two complaint sheets “was a result of a thorough and careful evaluation of the evidences submitted by police authorities in my office.”

“There were no pressures, whatsoever, coming from the DOJ or any top cabinet official,” he said.

He admitted, however, that a week before he issued his resolution, he received an order from Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales to “review and further evaluate the facts

“Categorically, it did not state in that order that I should drop Murad’s name from the complaint sheets. What I was told was to make sure that before I release my decision, it must be carefully studied first,” he said in an interview over DXND.

Two days before he issued the order to have Murad’s name dropped from the charge sheet, Calica said he consulted other members of the City Prosecution for a second opinion.

In his order, Calica said the evidence submitted against Murad was inadmissible as it was all hearsay.

Calica used as basis in his order the extra-judicial testimony of a certain Ambas Tukan, who claimed to be a regular member of the MILF and platoon leader and intelligence operative under MILF Commander Dugi Inalang and Brigade Commander Ustadz Atti Lintongan, both MILF leaders assigned at Camp Usman in Barangay Kapalawan, Arakan Valley in North Cotabato.

Tukan, in his testimony, alleged that sometime in the first week of October this year, he attended a meeting called for by MILF Commander Kule Mamagong, a foreigner and believed to be a trained demolition expert of the Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesia-based group,

During the meeting, he recounted that a group of bomb experts was organized to conduct bombing operations in different key cities in Mindanao and that he heard during one of the discussions in the meeting that the order had come from MILF chair Murad.

He claimed to have heard Murad’s name again during the meeting of Commander Kule and a certain Kagui Abbas Bayan, allegedly a top MILF official, in Barangay Sepaka, Datu Paglas in Maguindanao, sometime last October.

In his affidavit, Tukan said that while they were in Bayan’s safehouse in Datu Paglas town, he heard Kule talking on his cellular phone and receiving instructions from Murad, Basit Usman, and Dulmatin.

Calica, however, said the testimony was hearsay.

“The planned bombings were allegedly upon orders of Chairman Murad but without the testimony of the person who received the orders. Tukan just merely heard it during the meeting and not directly from Murad. This, in itself, a hearsay and inadmissible as evidence,” Calica said.

But Calica did not drop murder charges against Dulmatin alias Ahmat Usman and Omar Patek alias Abdul Sheik, suspected JI officials operating in Mindanao, even as there was nothing in Tukan’s testimony that would implicate the two.

Calica, however, was quick in saying that he used as basis the extra-judicial statement made by Istiade Bte Hja Oemar Sovie, wife of Dulmatin.

He said he found Sovie’s statement “as a rich source of information about the operations of Dulmatin, Omar Patek, and other associates in the Philippines, particularly in Central Mindanao. So, there is sufficient basis to continue with the investigation against them.”

Calica is handling two murder complaints in the October 10 bombings – the one filed by the Tacurong City Police and the other by the Makilala municipal police.

The amended murder complaint sheets include “MILF Commander Kule, Commander Lintongan, Commander Inalang, Basit Usman, Jabide Abdul alias Zabiri Abdul, Biznar Salahuddin, and Samsondin Datu Dema Atol alias Commander Platon Blah.”

Also charged were alias Madz, Tatoh, Sammy, Keir, Naz, Dats, and five female bomb experts, one of them identified only as Bai.