100 persons hunted in anti-Abu Sayyaf drive

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – At least a hundred individuals are included on a list of people targeted by government’s crackdown on the Abu Sayyaf and its supporters in Sulu, officials said Tuesday.

The list, according to Lieutenant General Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, includes Indonesians Umar Patek, Dulmatin and Marwan, who have been identified as members of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.

“They are all included. Actually, all of them, suspected ASG [Abu Sayyaf group] members and their supporters,” Allaga said.

Soldiers have been ordered to go after the persons on the list who, Allaga said, are hiding in the jungles of Sulu.

“Our troops are there, they’re scouring the jungles for the Abu Sayyaf. We are after them,” Allaga said.

Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, spokesman of the directorate for integrated police operations in Western Mindanao, confirmed Allaga’s figure but did not say how many civilians are included among the targets of the “legal offensive.”

Gucela also said he did not know if the three Indonesians are on the list.

Chief Superintendent Edwin Diocos, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Western Mindanao, said his unit also has its own list of 50 names, including three policemen earlier invited for questioning.

Topping the CIDG’s list are Albader Parad and Doc Abu, whose real name is Umbra Jumdail, Diocos said.

“They are the lead men in the charge list,” he said.

Diocos said the CIDG list, which also includes alleged civilian supporters of the Abu Sayyaf, was drawn from information provided by witnesses, whom he identified as “dating mga kasamahan din nila [former comrades of theirs].”

Diocos said they have strong evidence against Parad and the others on the list.

“These, including newspaper reports, plus the admission in testimony of Mary Jean Lacaba, will surely pin down Parad,” he said.

As this developed, Diocos also confirmed that charges have already been filed against the seven persons earlier invited for questioning for their links to Parad.

But Peter Medalle of the Regional State Prosecutor’s Office said nobody has been brought to them for inquest yet.

“Probably they [police] are still preparing other documents,” Medalle said.

In the wake of the crackdown, the Commission on Human Rights in Western Mindanao warned authorities against violating the rights of any suspect.

Jose Manuel Mamauag, CHR Western Mindanao director, said the police and military should ensure they have enough evidence before arresting any suspect.

Probable cause should be the basis for any arrest and not simply the existence of a state of emergency, he stressed.

Allaga assured the CHR that human rights would not be violated during the crackdown.

“We are not doing it indiscriminately,” he said.

He also denied reports of troops being ordered to loosen security in some areas of Sulu.

“The troops in this area will advance further forward,” he said, adding that withdrawal was “not in the vocabulary of the military.”

Julie Alipala, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Published in: on April 7, 2009 at 5:41 pm  Comments Off on 100 persons hunted in anti-Abu Sayyaf drive  
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