It’s the Abu Sayyaf’s fault but why are MILF members and Moro civilians being arrested?

As each day the feat of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Hermogenes Esperon and his officers in the WestMinCom were splashed in the media, the truth about the abducted Moro civilians and arrest of MILF members were hidden from the public, with the military disclaiming reports of families and witnesses who saw their abduction and arrest.

The MILF ceasefire committee complained of a number of their members being abducted, others arrested and detained, blamed for the bombings in Mindanao. Arrested since October last year were Suaib Idris of Zamboanga del Norte, Cader Malaydan of Compostela Valley, Ustadz Habib Darupo of Davao Oriental, Mohammad Timpoloc, Dats Ulangkaya and Totong DAnnas of Zamboanga del Sur.

According to the military, there are eleven MILF members who were charged with the bombing of Makilala in North Cotabato last year.  The eleven are active MILF members in the Maguindanao province:  Ustadz Amiril Kato Ombra, Ustadz Wahid Tundok, Sajid Pakiladatu, Sedik Otto, Ustadz Hawon, Peta Otto, Abdul Haq, Ahmad Akmad, Batabol Usman, Basit Usman, Kule Mamagong.  These men have a long-standing fight with the incumbent governor about land claims in Shariff Aguak and Mamasapano municipalities.  Governor Andal Ampatuan is a trusted ally of President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo and the 6th Infantry Division of the AFP. 

Moro civilians in Cotabato City were arrested just because they were discussing about the bombing incidents.  Four of them were overheard having a conversation about the incidents in a restaurant downtown by police intelligence and immediately they were arrested and detained and even presented to the media along with bombing materials which were not seen when they were apprehended.  Five days after, they were released due to lack of evidence.

A member of the Suara Bangsamoro Partylist organizations, Rahman Camili, was abducted by armed men in bonnets who stormed his house on December 18 in Madaum, Davao del Norte.  His wife saw the masked men shot him in the leg and stomach and forcibly taken him inside a white van. Camili is missing until now.  He was once arrested in 2003 for the bombing incident in Ecoland Bus Terminal in Davao City but was soon released for lack of evidence.  His wife who has witnessed the abduction believes that the armed men in bonnets took him to be paraded as a fall guy for the possible bombing of ASEAN Summit in Cebu.

Another civilian, Sarib Anuk, has been missing since last week.  The family points to the elements of the Task Force Tugis as the ones who forcibly took him last week.

For an administration that has been harping about their feat against terrorism, the showcase of bombing incidents and scores of "terrorists" is not enough to convince the public that they are indeed winning over "terrorism".  If Gen. Esperon believes that their recent show of military might in Sulu has reduced the membership of the Abu Sayyaf, then why is it still expecting a retaliatory measure of a greater extent?

Has the administration really resolved "terrorism"?  Or is this mere showcase to convince the public that there is a need for the Philippine Congress to pass the anti-terror bill after the ASEAN Summit has signed the Convention on Counter-Terrorism. 

If the Abu Sayyaf is the one responsible for the bombings, then why are MILF members being charged and arrested for the bombings?  Will this not affect the peace negotiations and diminish the confidence of the Moro people about the sincerity of the Philippine government in resolving their conflict with the Moro people?

Many of us abhor this violent fiasco and surprisingly it is only the government and the military who are rejoicing in their catch.  Many of us are starting to believe that since all of those Abu Sayyaf who were presented to the media has an equivalent million dollar bounties, that this has been an abhorrent way of gaining money and accolades from the government.  Because the bottom line is that the bombing and the arrest of the Moro civilians are not helping the present administration in attracting Moro votes and confidence in the coming election.

Amirah Ali Lidasan

Vice-Chairperson

Suara Bangsamoro Partylist Organization

San Pedro St., Kimpo Subdivision

COTABATO CITY