Dateline Zamboanga City, Philippines -

July 10, 2007 - Bloody Tuesday

We must remember July 10, 2007. The MILF killed Fourteen (14) soldiers and out of the fourteen, ten (10) were be-headed, their hands and genitals chopped off in barangay Guinanta, Al-Barka, Basilan then left behind as trophies of the MILF and as testimony of their inhumane behavior.

President Arroyo promised Justice. The military Generals promised to deliver this Justice. They even gave deadlines!!

What happened to the Deadlines? What happened to the promise of Justice? Was the payoff of 100,000.00 pesos per head to the grieving families enough?

As you can read from the sequence of events in descending order from the date of the massacre, our leaders and protectors are full of sound fury. But this reminds me of a line from William Shakespeare's Macbeth, from Act 5, Scene 5:
"A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Warrants of Arrest for the perpetrators were issued on 7/26/2007. But President Arroyo, gave the order not to serve these warrants until the perpetrators are fully aware of their impending arrest and are given 5 days lead-time so they can take off to their hiding places.

Basilan Police Director Salik Macapantar complains about the president's idiotic decision to withhold the serving of the warrants,  because when Macapantar and 300 of his policemen swooped down Tuesday July 31, 2007 on the town of Al-Barka to serve the warrants of arrest on those behind the July 10 incident, none of the perpetrators were around so he returned empty handed. All the suspects fled the area after Pres. ARROYO gave the order to announce the serving of the warrants of arrest.

Now these leaders are busy trying to manipulate the public by producing conflicting reports  to confuse the public and ultimately attempt to make us forget that this tragedy ever occurred, so they can go back to the negotiation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they are giving away Mindanao to the ARMM. - Webmaster
This webpage created on July 20, 2007 in memory of those who died on 7-10-2007 in barangay Guinanta, Al-Barka, Basilan.

"My wish is that the you the public will not let the government fool you again. They will let time fly by so you the public and even the families of the victims will forget this issue, then it will be business as usual for the military leaders and president Arroyo."  Webmaster

Written by Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews   

Friday, 03 August 2007 09 48 15

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 Aug) – The battleground in barangay Guinanta, Al-Barkah town last July 10 was so "chaotic" that 14 alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf managed to slip through and beheaded the fallen Philippine Marines.

The joint fact-finding team of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ceasefire coordinating teams have identified four of the suspects and have recommended the formation of a joint task force to hunt them.

"We have eyewitnesses who testified seeing the suspects entering the area when the MILF withdrew its forces," Von Al Haq, chief of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, said.

Aside from identifying the suspects, the team also found that the Philippine Marines failed to coordinate with the CCCH when they entered barangay Guinanta where the MILF had three camps. (See separate story.)

But the investigation failed to establish who killed the 67-year-old imam, Al Kanul, the lone civilian casualty in the July 10 incident, a source in the investigating team said.

Al Haq, however, clarified that the witnesses they interviewed said they saw only the beheading of four Marines.

In Manila, Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar identified four of the suspects in his privilege speech this morning.

Akbar identified the four as Umair Indama, Nurhasan Jamiri, Buhari Jamiri and Suaib Kalibon. He said the four suspects are also responsible for several kidnappings, including that of Grace Gonzales, daughter of the school president of Western Mindanao State University, in 2006.

A source close to the investigation told MindaNews that the team was able to know the identities of the suspects after two witnesses came forward and executed their affidavits in Zamboanga City.

"One is an MILF member who went back to the scene of the fighting after they had withdrawn from the area to look for something he left behind," the source said.

The source said the witness saw the four suspects with 10 other armed men going near to the fallen Marines near the M35 6x6 truck.

"The witness saw the four suspects behead and mutilate the Marines. He even admonished them that beheadings are not allowed in warfare," Al Haq said.

Al Haq said Lantawan town Mayor Tahira Ismael and Al-Barkah town Mayor Karam Jakilan brought the two witnesses to the fact-finding team in Zamboanga City last Monday.

"They were the missing link to the investigation, " he said.

Al Haq said the investigation, however, was not able to establish the identities of the killers of Al Kanul, whose body was found inside an area where the Marines had established defensive positions in barangay Guinanta.

"The imam's wrists were hogtied but there was no witness who saw the killing," he said.

The fact-finding investigation had interviewed a total of 27 eyewitness during their week-long investigation in Basilan.

Last Wednesday, the investigation ended and copies of the report were given to government and MILF chief peace negotiators Rodolfo Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

Last Updated ( Friday, 03 August 2007 09 50 13 )

Thursday, August 02, 2007
Talks on surrender of Basilan attackers ongoing

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) strengthened intelligence operations to track down the perpetrators of the July 10 ambush in Al-Barka, Basilan that claimed the lives of 14 Marine soldiers.

Basilan Police Director Salik Macapantar said his personnel are monitoring all possible hideouts of the suspects who could be seeking refuge in other parts of Basilan.

Macapantar and 300 of his policemen swooped down Tuesday on the town of Al-Barka to serve the warrants of arrest on those behind the July 10 incident but returned empty handed because the suspects had fled.

National Security Adviser and acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said in Cagayan de Oro that up until Wednesday night, negotiations were ongoing for the surrender of "less than 10" of the 130 suspected perpetrators of the Basilan ambush listed in the arrest warrants issued by the court.

If the negotiations fail, a military option would be imminent, said Gonzales in a press briefing Wednesday with the Cagayan de Oro media at the Fourth Infantry Division (4th ID) headquarters.

Gonzales was touring several Mindanao provinces, including Basilan, where 14 Marine soldiers were killed, 10 of them beheaded, in an ambush early this month.

Armed Forces Deputy Chief Pedrito Cadungog said the government or the military is not involved in the talks.

Malacañang has vowed to punish the perpetrators, but over three weeks after the incident, the suspects remain at large.

Gonzales, however, appealed for calm, saying that even if government is eager to capture or kill the perpetrators, "the rule of law must be followed."

"We will get this people. Maybe not tonight, not tomorrow night, but one of these nights, we will get them," he said.
Witnesses were able to identify the suspects in the attack but Gonzales said authorities were still trying to "verify" the information. They have also narrowed the names in the list to "less than 10."

"Before anything undesirable could happen, we're trying to make this strictly a police matter. We want an actual arrest, not something that could escalate any armed conflict," he said.

Cadungog said the ongoing negotiations is among the factors that prompted the government to give investigators more time to look into the circumstances of what the military leadership called a "dastardly and barbaric" act.

He also said government forces are well prepared for an offensive against the perpetrators, who belong to the secessionist MILF that is negotiating a peace accord with government.

In Basilan, police are set to serve again the warrants of arrest at past midnight Thursday, the expiration of a 24-hour extension given to the joint team from the government's and MILF's Committees on Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities to complete its probe over the incident.

The committee on Tuesday requested the postponement of the serving of the warrants of arrest since it had not yet completed and come out with the results of its investigation.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza told reporters at the Zamboanga International Airport that he expects to receive a copy of the investigation result on the incident by late Wednesday.

MILF committee head Von Al Haq said they have to study the list of names that were issued warrants of arrest to determine if all of them are really members of the rebel group.

Retired Lieutenant General Rodolfo Garcia, government chief negotiator, said they will furnish a copy of their investigation result to the Department of Justice "so that proper legal action could be done towards the direction of cleaning up the list that they have."

Garcia told reporters in Zamboanga City that the 130 charged for the attack were too many to be beheading "so few."

At least 130 suspects were identified by their names while several others were named as John Does in the warrants of arrest issued by the court. (Bong Garcia/Danilo V. Adorador III of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

PIA Press Release

NSA acts on PGMA order to get perpetrators of fallen soldiers

By Jocelyn P. Alvarez

Zamboanga City (July 31) -- "The President has given directive that we get the perpetrators (of the July 10 Basilan incident)," said National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales in a press conference conducted at the Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB), Zamboanga City.

Gonzales arrived here in Zamboanga City today with Gen. Rudy Garcia, Chairman, GRP Peace Panel after visiting Basilan Province early this morning to assess the ongoing investigation conducted by the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

Gonzales said the CCCH has asked till tomorrow, Aug. 1 to submit the result of their investigation.

GRP peace panel chair Garcia said as of this time, they have not yet completed their report and that probe result is still being wind up.

Security Adviser Gonzales also disclosed the possibility that the perpetrators might have fled the area, but stressed, " Whoever and wherever they are, we will get them" adding that they are no longer particular that there was a crime committed, "what we are particular now is that there was clear beheading and mutilation of our army".

Gonzales said the AFP and PNP are conducting an extensive investigation saying, "the entire intelligence of the country is engaged in this undertaking" (PIA Z.C)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Police to serve arrest warrants on Marines' killers
By Bong Garcia

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A Basilan court has issued warrants of arrest for the perpetrators of the Al-Barka attack last July 10 that resulted in the killing of 14 Marine soldiers, 10 of whom were beheaded, and injuries to nine others.

The police, backed by military forces, would start serving the warrants on Tuesday, said Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in Manila Monday.

Basilan Regional Trial Court Judge Leo Principe issued the warrants Thursday afternoon (7-26-2007) but police revealed their existence only on Monday, a day before they were set to serve them.

Principe said the cases that were filed include murder without bail and frustrated murder with P200,000 bail for each of the accused.

At least 130 of the suspects were identified but over a hundred others were named only as John Does.

Government prosecutors said they have at least 10 witnesses, including the Marine troopers who were wounded in the ambush, who were able to identify the attackers.

Basilan Police Director Sadick Macapantar said charges for multiple murders and multiple frustrated murders were filed against the accused Thursday morning.

Macapantar said most of the respondents are identified with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while the others are affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf.

The MILF maintained it would wait for the findings of the International Monitoring Team that is investigating the July 10 incident.

Last Friday, members of government's and the MILF's Committees on Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) arrived in Basilan to conduct a separate investigation into the incident.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had ordered the suspension of punitive actions against the attackers to give way to this investigation but this lapsed Monday.

The committees investigating the ambush, however, said they were not yet finished and were asking for an extension of a few more days. (With VR/Sunnex)

Last updated 04:29pm (Mla time) 07/30/2007

No Basilan offensives’--Palace
Gonzales: ‘No decision yet on service of warrants’

By Joel Guinto, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines -- There will be no military offensives in Basilan, Malacañang said on Monday, even as acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said there has been no decision yet on whether warrants of arrest against the accused killers of 14 Marines will be served on Tuesday.

Gonzales’ statement, in an interview with reporters, ran counter to both military officials’ announcements that they would back up police serving the warrants on Tuesday and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye’s pronouncement that the warrants would be served only “after” Tuesday.

Tuesday is the day Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the military would mount punitive actions against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters it holds responsible for the deaths of 14 Marines, 10 of them beheaded and mutilated, during an ambush and battle last July 10.

The operations were supposed to have been launched late last week but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered them put on hold for three days to give the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), a body composed of government and MILF representatives, a chance to investigate the incident and identify those responsible.

Despite this, police released some of the names of at least 130 MILF fighters accused of involvement in the clash in Al-Barkah town.

Earlier Monday, Esperon said the punitive actions would push through even as the chief MILF representative to the CCCH said they would not be able to finish their investigation.

Esperon said the "punitive action" will see the police serving the warrants with the military serving as a backup force.

The CCCH deadline is supposed to be Monday.

“It’s a go. D-day is still tomorrow [Tuesday],” Esperon told reporters after he inspected another Marine battalion to be deployed to Basilan on Wednesday.

“We have gone this far, we do not hope to give [any] further extension,” the military chief said.

"We will weigh our options later on if punitive military action should still be taken against the perpetrators of the beheadings," he said.

The MILF has admitted attacking the Marines, saying they encroached on their territory in Al-Barkah without prior coordination, but they denied involvement in the beheadings.

The rebels also vowed to fight back if the military attacked them in their pursuit for the Marines' attackers.

"We will serve the warrants. If there is resistance labanan na [the
fighting starts]," Marine commandant Major General Nelson Allaga said.

But Gonzales said he was going to Zamboanga City on Tuesday to look at progress reports before making a decision on serving the warrants.

He also declined to comment on Esperon’s statement.

For his part, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye hinted of a possible extension, saying they were still “hoping that the CCCH can submit [its] report on Tuesday.”

Only “after tomorrow [Tuesday],” Bunye added, would the warrants be served.

In a text message from Esperon, in response to a query from Bunye on his statement about punitive actions, the military chief said: “We are sticking to the plan. The matter of extensions [again] have [sic] not been discussed yet.”

The message was forward to by Bunye.

Von Al Haq, CCCH chairman representing the MILF, said the committee would not be able to finish its investigation this Monday and was asking for "several days" more to finish its work.

Al-Haq said he has forwarded his request to his counterpart in the government panel, Brigadier General Edgardo Guerra, who in turn, will pass the request to the chief government peace negotiator, Rodolfo Garcia, before it reaches Malacañang.

“We can’t finish it today. We still have witnesses to interview tomorrow [Tuesday]. The fact-finding mission should not be restrained by any timeframe because it might affect the results,” said Al Haq in a phone interview.

Esperon said he has not been informed of the CCCH's request to extend its Monday deadline, which was set by Arroyo last Friday during a command conference at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.

"They have not sent a word as to whether they [CCCH] would complete it or not. We will know later today, but as of now, we are already preparing to assist the Philippine National Police," the military chief said.

"We do not hope to give further extensions but in the interest of thoroughness and truth, we have abided by the three-day extension of the investigations," he said.

Asked if authorities would go by the findings of the CCCH in going after the suspects in the Basilan attack, Esperon replied: "That will be worked out on the ground."

During a pep talk to the Marines, Esperon asked the troops: "Handa na ba kayo? [Are you ready?]"

To which they replied: "Yes, sir."

Echoing Arroyo's marching orders, Esperon said: "Our 14 Marine brothers, we will not waste their sacrifice…I only ask you to follow the process."

Fresh from retraining, the 7th Marine Battalion is set to leave for Basilan on Wednesday. It will replace the 9th Marine Battalion, which will be transferred to Palawan province.

The 9th Marine battalion will replace the 10th Marine battalion, which will be recalled to Manila for retraining.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao said they would use “reasonable force” if the subjects of the arrest warrants offer resistance.

"We will use reasonable force if necessary [for us] to be able to arrest the persons involved," Pagdilao said in an interview.

Pagdilao said the arrest warrants serve as a "legal justification" to move against the suspects.

Once the suspects are arrested, they will be brought before the court that issued the warrant and then placed under police custody.

With a report from Thea Alberto

Last updated 02:24am (Mla time) 07/28/2007

D-Day expected on Tuesday; July 31, 2007 as 5,000 troops dig in

By Julie Alipala, Jeoffrey Maitem, Charlie Sease

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Amid international calls for restraint, President Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday held back for three days a planned military assault against Moro gunmen on Basilan island accused of beheading 10 Philippine Marines in an ambush.

“We expect D-day on Tuesday,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon told reporters after a military-police command conference at a military camp in Zamboanga City chaired by Ms Arroyo.

In military parlance, D-Day refers to the beginning of an attack.

“We must go full force and steadfast and uncompromising in punishing the beheaders. The more we allow this to pass without getting (anyone) punished, we will be encouraging more beheading,” he said.

Ms Arroyo, who arrived in Zamboanga wearing a camouflage fatigue vest, issued the order as her government prepared to host Asia’s biggest security conference next week to be attended by ministers from 27 countries, including the United States, Russia, China and members of the European Union.

At the command conference, held behind closed doors, Ms Arroyo gave the joint government-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ceasefire committee three days to come up with results of its investigation into the July 10 Basilan military debacle, in which 14 Marines were killed—10 of them beheaded—during an ambush.

The MILF has admitted its forces were involved in the ambush but denied they beheaded any of the soldiers.

Probe Averts Clash Of Military, Islamic Separatists In Southern Philippines

July 27, 2007 3:18 p.m. EST

Windsor Genova - AHN

Zamboanga City, Philippines (AHN) - Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday suspended a large-scale military offensive against Islamic secessionists in the southern island of Basilan. The offensive, which is aimed at arresting and punishing the killers of 14 Marines in an encounter last July 10, was suspended to allow mediators from both sides to jointly investigate and find out who killed the Marines, 10 of whom were beheaded and mutilated.

The local media reported that President Arroyo ordered the suspension of offensive and the investigation after meeting military officials at the Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City. She gave the investigating team three days to do its job starting on Friday.

However, the President did not order the military to stop the manhunt in Basilan and the entire island of Mindanao of Abu Sayyaf bandits suspected of taking part in the fight and beheading and mutilating 10 of the slain Marines.

The probe team has six members led by the peace negotiators of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has been fighting for a separate homeland for Muslims in Mindanao. The investigators will interview combatants and residents in the battle zone in Al-Barkah town, Basilan to also determine if a ceasefire agreement was breached.

The military is claiming that the MILF ambushed the marines who were returning from a mission to search for the then kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi. The MILF claimed they were defending their territory against the intruders in accordance with the truce agreement, but denied beheading any soldier and joining forces with the Abu Sayyaf.

The military has identified 130 MILF members and an Abu Sayyaf member who allegedly were involved in the clash. It has secured arrest warrants from the police for their capture.

A spokesman of the MILF said members found guilty of the crimes will be turned over to the police.

The military has amassed troops in Basilan after the MILF refused demands to turn over its members suspected of killing the Marines. Another battle may end ongoing peace negotiations and a chance to forge a peace agreement.

The Philippine Star - July 27, 2007

Military and police authorities have identified the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels behind the ambush-slay of 14 Marines in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan on July 10.

Field reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo on Friday tagged Hamsa Sapantun, MILF chairman in Basilan, along with commanders Not Muddalan “alias” Not, Suhud Limaya “alias” Hud, Sulaiman Murata, Hadji Dan Asnwai alias “Adan” and Long Hadji Mas-ud as the leaders of the MILF fighters who attacked the Marine convoy, triggering an almost nine-hour gun battle. Ten Marines were beheaded.

The MILF leaders and commanders were also aided by Abu Sayyaf members led by Commanders Furuji Indama and Nurshasan Kallilut Jamiri.

Meanwhile, President Arroyo has given the joint fact-finding body of the government and the MILF three days to finish the investigation on the Basilan incident.

Malacañang explained that the deferment of the so-called punitive action against the MILF to next Tuesday was to allow the completion of the investigation on the July 10 attack.

The President approved the move during the command conference with officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Zamboanga City Friday.

AFP chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Mrs. Arroyo gave the approval following their major command conference at the Khaddafi mansion in Western Mindanao headquarters.

“We expect... the serving of the warrant of arrest on Tuesday,” Esperon said.

Esperon also added that the legal process of investigating and serving arrest warrants should avoid a breakdown in the Malaysian-brokered peace process between the government and the rebels.

The conference was presided over by Mrs. Arroyo as commander-in-chief and attended by heads of all the AFP major service units and the Philippine National Police (PNP), and all forces in southern Philippines with acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the President approved the completion of the investigation by Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) as part of the ceasefire mechanism of the peace process.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza explained that the three-day allowance given to the CCCH was done to provide authorities with a clear picture of the incident.

Dureza said that the punitive action to be taken by Tuesday involves only “the usual police action,” which is to serve the warrants of arrest to the concerned parties.

However, Dureza said members of the peace process want to have a complete and conclusive picture from the investigation first before taking any action.

He said that the mayors of Basilan are also working to provide information to the CCCH, which would be consolidated with the evidence gathered by the PNP and the AFP.

Dureza said the government wants to prevent any untoward incident during the serving of the arrest warrants this Tuesday.

“This is not a simple process so everything is taken into account. We have to do everything so that we won’t commit any mistakes and this activity will not escalate or spill over because we are pursuing the peace process,” he said.

Troops beefed up

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division has beefed up its troops in the two Lanao provinces.

The deployment came in the wake of President Arroyo’s order to deploy more troops in the area during her recent visit to Cagayan de Oro City.

Maj. Samuel Sagun, spokesman for the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the 103rd Infantry Brigade troops were deployed to augment the troops already stationed in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, with specific orders to protect government installations.

With the expected electric power shortage, the government is securing its vital installations to prevent sabotage and disruptions.

In a peace briefing conducted Thursday by non-government organizations in Marawi, the convenors urged the government to defer any military action in Basilan since this has also caused panic among residents in the two Lanao provinces.

“We appeal to the national government and the MILF to sustain the peace talks and to discuss all ceasefire violations at the negotiating table, to prevent the escalation of armed conflict,” said Alona Orcullas of the GRP-MILF local monitoring team (LMT) in Lanao del Norte.

In Davao City the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) has given the “go-signal” for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to impose “punitive action” against the MILF rebels who were involved in the Basilan incident.

This, after the MILF refused to surrender their members believed to have beheaded the Marines, in spite of the deadline set last weekend by the military for the turnover of suspects.

“The clearance was given for the military to launch the ‘punitive action’ provided that the government would make the effort that the peace negotiations would continue,” a highly reliable source told The STAR.

The go-signal was reached during a meeting Thursday night here in Davao City between the BUC leaders and government officials led by Gonzales, Dureza and Esperon.

Six other military generals accompanied Esperon in the meeting held at the Bishop’s Palace, the official residence of Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla.

Government chief negotiator, retired Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, also attended the meeting.

The BUC, composed of Catholic and Christian bishops, as well as Muslim ulamas from all over Mindanao, has been instrumental in building interfaith dialogues in different areas in the south. Marvin Sy, Edith Regalado, Lino dela Cruz, Roel Pareño, AP

PIA Press Release

PGMA to preside over the top level command conference in Zamboanga City Friday

ZAMBOANGA CITY (26 July) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will preside over the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) top level military command conference here tomorrow to assess the peace and order situation in the western and eastern parts of Mindanao.

It is expected that upon her arrival here, the President will meet the top AFP officials of Western and Eastern Mindanao Command at the conference room of the Mansion House in Camp General Navarro.

She is also expected to visit and check the health conditions of the Marine soldiers wounded-in-action in an encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) renegade troops in Tipo-Tipo and Patikul, both in Basilan, in Camp General Navarro Hospital, where they are now confined and recuperating.

As of this afternoon, the AFP was still awaiting for the warrant of arrest against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) renegade members who ambushed and killed 14 Marine soldiers in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan recently.

After the command conference, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon will update local and national media men on military preparations in going after the killers of the 14 Marine soldiers,10 of whom were beheaded and mutilated.

The President is also scheduled to inspect important government infrastructure projects here, including the asphalt overlay project at the runway of Zamboanga City International Airport.

The repair of the portions of the runway of the airport is one of the priority projects of the President to help boost the tourism industry within Zamboanga peninsula and nearby municipalities in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur. (OPS)

Arroyo to preside over Zamboanga command conference
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Last updated 03:15pm (Mla time) 07/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will fly to Zamboanga City Friday to visit troops there and preside over a command conference of Western Mindanao commanders as the military moves against those responsible for the deaths of 14 Marines in Basilan on July 10.

Arroyo is expected to arrive at the Edwin Andrew Airbase in Zamboanga City and will proceed to the Mansion House of the Western Mindanao Command headquarters for the command conference

She will be accompanied by Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

After the conference, she will visit wounded soldiers at the Camp Navarro General Hospital and will inspect the asphalt overlay project at the runway of the Zamboanga City International Airport.

The military has placed on standby four Marine battalions -- two stationed in Basilan and two from Sulu -- as well as 28 companies of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) militiamen in the hunt for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters accused of killing the Marines and then beheading and mutilating 10 of the slain soldiers.

The MILF has acknowledged engaging the Marines, who were on their way back from an operation to check on reported sightings of then abducted Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi. But the separatist movement has denied the beheadings.

July 20, 2007

THE Zamboanga City Council on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms possible those responsible for the beheading of 10 Marines in Basilan last weekend, describing the act is "barbaric, unchristian and un-Islamic."

The resolution, initiated by Councilor Asbi Edding, also expressed the city's deep sympathy and condolences to the family of the 14 Marine soldiers who were brutally killed in the town of Al-Barka in Basilan last July 14.

Of the 14 executed, 10 were beheaded in the area where Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was abducted June 10 in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, was believed hidden.

The soldiers were on their way to the barracks after checking reports that Bossi was in the area when attacked by the armed men.

Edding said the execution of the Marine soldiers was an act of savagery

He praised the soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the safety of their fellow citizens.

Edding requested that the resolution be presented by Mayor Celso Lobregat together with Vice Mayor Manuel Dalipe and the members of the City Council to the Philippine Marines, through the Western Mindanao Command chief.

The measure was approved unanimously by all the councilors present. (Sheila E. Covarrubias)

US Embassy slams Marines beheading

07/17/2007 | 10:55 AM

  The United States Embassy in Manila has condemned the beheading of 10 Marines and the killing of four other servicemen in last week's encounter in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

GMA News reported that American Ambassador Kristie Kenney issued the statement Monday when she met with local officials in Zamboanga City, saying that the perpetrators should be brought to justice.

The Zamboanga city government adopted Kenney as its adopted daughter.

Security was tight during her visit to city hall and a military hospital inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters where nine injured Marines were getting medical attention.

The nine survived the attack last July 10 in Tipo-Tipo town, which left a total of 14 Marines killed. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which claimed responsibility over the incident, said the body count was actually 23.

The MILF placed the blame on the military for allegedly failing to coordinate with them as government troops "encroached" upon their territory. The Marines were searching then for abducted Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi.

Kenny came to the hospital on board a bullet-proof van and refused to speak to media there. Journalists were banned from entering the hospital at that time. - GMANews.TV

The Philippine Star July 16, 2007

DAVAO CITY – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has rejected a government ultimatum to surrender those responsible for the beheading of Philippine Marines in an ambush that has strained an already fragile ceasefire.

"We will not surrender any of our fighters," chief rebel negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal said.

"It is premature to talk about surrender. There has to be an investigation first. We do not mutilate bodies, we have nothing to do with this," MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu also told The STAR.

Kabalu insisted there were actually 30 Philippine Marines – and not 14 as claimed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines – who were killed in last week’s clashes in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, with only seven, not 10 of the soldiers beheaded.

"We already have our initial findings pero masalimuot kasi di sinabi ng Marines ang totoong nangyari (but it is complicated because the Marines did not say what exactly happened). The report of the Marines was not right," Kabalu said.

Kabalu said that based on the investigation of an MILF team, there were actually 30 Marines who were killed and only seven were beheaded, not 10 as earlier reported.

"Contrary to what the Marines claimed, our probe team found out that during the encounter in Barangay Guinanta on July 10, the MILF turned over and accounted to the Marines, in front of local officials of Tipo-Tipo, the remains of 23 Marines who died in the clashes that started as early as 9 a.m.," Kabalu said.

Kabalu said that the turnover of the 23 bodies took place at around 6 p.m. when a ceasefire was declared between the warring forces.

"The remains were all intact and they were accounted for when they were presented before the local officials and the local monitoring team in the area. The 23 remains were not decapitated," Kabalu said.

The ceasefire was reportedly coordinated by a certain Ali Satar of the local monitoring team in the area who acted as "mediator" between the clashing forces.

Kabalu said it was around 10:00 p.m. that same day when a certain "Marine Major Macatuon" called up Satar and relayed the message that seven more Marines had not been accounted for.

"So Satar in turn relayed the message to the MILF in the area who immediately searched for the missing Marines at around 6 a.m. the following day after their morning prayers," Kabalu said.

He explained that the MILF guerrillas found seven remains whose heads were severed just 200 meters from the site of the encounter in Barangay Guinanta.

"Of the seven remains, only six heads were found. It later turned out that the head of the seventh victim was actually already with the mayor of Tipo-Tipo," he said.

"So, it shows that 23 plus seven, there were 30 Marines who were killed and not just 14," he added.

Kabalu insisted the MILF did not have anything to do with the beheading and that their local commanders are willing to face any investigating body.

"We are not hiding anything here. Our commanders and our men in the field are willing to face anyone, even the international human rights groups, to prove that the encounter was indeed legitimate and that the beheadings were not the doings of the MILF forces in Tipo-Tipo," Kabalu stressed.

He stressed that as early as July 8, the Marines already went inside MILF territory in Barangay Limbo Ubas and went back the following day, going as far as Barangay Linuwan in Tipo-Tipo.

"The MILF troops were even able to confiscate one firearm and a uniform from the Marines who were warned not to go back to the area anymore. But they came back the next day on July 10 and went as far as Barangay Guinanta where the encounter happened because they were already encroaching into the deeper part of the MILF territory," Kabalu said.

Meanwhile, Col. Ramiro Alivio, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, said the operation against the renegade group is ongoing and has not been halted.

"We have not deferred the operation... against the perpetrators of the ambush and those who mutilated the remains of the marines," Alivio said.

Speculations that the death of a Muslim preacher allegedly triggered his relatives to avenge and mutilate ten of the 14 Marine casualties are being floated here, according to a town mayor.

The mayor, whose town is adjacent to Barangay Guinanta where the massacre occurred, said that the remains of the ten marines were desecrated after the killing of Imam Matarul Alkanul.

The town mayor, who asked not to be named, disclosed this to media during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting called Monday by Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, wife of now Rep. Wahab Akbar.

Saturday, July 14, 2007
Full military honors afforded to slain marines
By Bong Garcia

The Armed Forces of the Philippines accorded the 14 fallen members of the Philippine Marines Corps full military honors Thursday in Zamboanga City, where their remains were brought from Basilan.

Philippine Marine Commandant Nelson Allaga, at the same time, pinned Wounded Personnel Medals (WPMs) on nine injured troopers who are recovering in Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City.

Allaga, who arrived in the city Thursday morning from Manila, gave financial assistance and grocery items to the families of the slain and wounded troopers.

The slain and wounded Marines belong to the First Marine Brigade headed by Colonel Ramiro Alivio. They were reportedly ambushed Tuesday by Abu Sayyaf bandits allegedly backed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels.

They were attacked while returning to their camp in Campo Uno, Lamitan, Basilan, after checking the veracity of information that abducted Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi was sighted in the town of Tipo-Tipo.

Allaga condemns the beheading of the 10 slain marine soldiers, saying "it was a barbaric act."

However, Allaga said they will not avenge the death of their fallen comrades in the manner that they were killed by the enemy.

"It's an unfortunate incident, our soldiers are professionals. They will not do like that (behead the enemy)," he said.

Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, who also condemned the incident, said the beheading (of the soldiers) was a trademark of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Friday, July 13 2007 @ 10:14 AM BST


The 14 fallen Philippine Marines Corps members were afforded full military honors Thursday after their remains were brought to Zamboanga City from nearby Basilan province.

At the same time, Philippine Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga personally pinned Wounded Personnel Medals (WPMs) to the nine wounded marine troops at Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.

Allaga, who arrived here Thursday morning from Manila, also gave P100,000 financial assistance and grocery items to the families of the slain and wounded marine troops.

The slain and wounded marines belong to the First Marine Brigade headed by Col. Ramiro Alivio that engaged in gun battle for several hours after they were ambushed last Tuesday by Abu Sayyaf bandits allegedly backed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels.

They were ambushed while returning to their camp in Campo Uno, Lamitan, Basilan, after verifying information that abducted Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi was sighted in the town of Tipo-Tipo.

Allaga condemned the beheading and the cutting of hands and sexual organs of the 10 slain marine soldiers saying "it was obviously a barbaric act."

However, Allaga said they will not avenge the death of their fallen comrades like beastly manner they were killed by the enemy.

"It's an unfortunate incident, our soldiers are professionals. They will not do like that (behead the enemy)," he said.

Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, who also condemned the incident, said "the beheading (of the soldiers) is an act of the Abu Sayyaf group. (PNA)

Troops in search of Bossi battle with MILF rogues

07/10/2007 | 09:51 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Troops tracking down Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest, clashed on Tuesday with hundreds of suspected gunmen, believed to be rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) working with lawless elements, in the southern island province of Basilan, military officials said.

According to an initial report, one soldier was killed and two others were injured in the fighting that erupted at around 10 a.m. in the town of Al-Barka, according to Marine Colonel Ramiro Alivio, the island's military chief.

But in a later report, on Tuesday evening, Marine sources said they have unofficial but reliable reports that two killed, both enlisted men, and that 10 were wounded, one of them an officer and the rest enlisted men. Ten other enlisted were reportedly missing.

The same source said the clash took place in Tipo-Tipo town.

In the earlier report, Alivio said the soldiers were checking reports that Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, had been sighted in the town. The report turned out to be false.

"Troops were verifying reports that Father Bossi was spotted in the area, but it turned out negative. Our forces were returning to base when they came under fire and fighting broke out," Alivio said
He said as the fighting raged, the number of gunmen also swelled until it reached 500.

Military intelligence sources in Basilan said as many as seven militants were killed and wounded in the fighting, but there could be more casualties as battle continued well into the night.

It said MILF forces in Basilan have sided with the Abu Sayyaf group and fought against government troops.

Acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales had earlier informed Margherita Boniver, special envoy of the Italian government, that the 57-year old priest from Milan is being held by Abu Sayyaf militants.

Boniver, who was in the Philippines last week, expressed caution about the Abu Sayyaf.

"There are other theories about the kidnappers — for example, the head of the army mentioned former members of the [Moro] Islamic Liberation Front," she said.

Bossi's group, the Rome-based Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME), doubted the Abu Sayyaf group, which is linked to the al-Qaeda terror network, is holding the priest.

Philippine military and police officials have tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue leader of the MILF, as the kidnapping mastermind.

The MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel group, denied involvement in the kidnapping but said Bossi's captors were demanding "tens of millions of pesos" in ransom.

Last week, three undated photographs of Bossi in captivity were sent to the cell phone of his friend Spanish priest Angel Calvo in Zamboanga City.

Military sources said a former Basilan town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unclear how the former official was able to get the photos.

Authorities were investigating the authenticity of the photos, all showing Bossi sitting on a boulder surrounded by young trees. One photograph showed Bossi holding a transistor radio.

The Italian group PIME said it has had no contact with the kidnappers. Bossi is the third Italian priest that has kidnapped in recent years in southern Philippines.

In 1998, rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Father Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group Pentagon Gang snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna was saying mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers.

Benedetti now has been following developments in the Bossi kidnapping case closely from the start, from the PIME regional house in Zamboanga City. -
Al Jacinto, GMANews.TV