8 of 20 suspected Sayyaf members positively identified by witnessesBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Eight out 20 suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members have been positively identified by two of their captives during the reinvestigation conducted Monday at the Department of Justice.
Identified were Jumlie Orie, Jul Ahmad Ahadi Julman, Arabi Muin Ladja, Sonny Boy Barahim, Abdulwahab Hamja, Mujibar Alih Aman, Julhasan Jaani and Absar Mangkabang Asim
The two who turned government witnesses were among the six Jehovah’s Witnesses abducted in Patikul, Sulu, on Aug. 20, 2002 by the group of Radulan Sahiron. The husband of one of the captives who turned witness was later beheaded along with Lemuel Bantolo.
The government, through the DOJ moved for a reinvestigation of the case following claims of some of the accused that they had been arbitrarily arrested. The government’s request was granted by Judge Torinio Ilao Jr. of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266.
“This is an unusual move for the DOJ but we did it in the interest of justice…There are some people arrested for not committing anything,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, Vice-Chair of the DOJ Anti-Terrorism Task Force, said during Monday’s reinvestigation.
Authorities have arrested three persons, one of them, Ahmadsali A. Badron, 40, who is a member of the Reconciliation and Unification of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and a former Commissioner of the Department of Education.
The witnesses failed to identify Badron. Badron was arrested last July 28, 2012.
In the case of accused Kumander Black Tungkang, two people were arrested, the DOJ panel of investigators said. A reward money of P3.3 million was being claimed for the arrest of one of the two.
The panel asked each of the 8 suspects to give their side. Aman, whom the victim said was allegedly in charge of Abu Sayyaf’s budget and told to pick one of the captives for him to marry, denied the allegations.
Jaani, on the other hand, whom the victim said as one of those who beheaded her husband, maintained that he has nothing to do with the abduction.
“It’s not true. I’m an assistant Imam and (former Western Mindanao Command chief) General (Benjamin) Dolorfino can vouch for that,” Jaani said.
One of the eight suspects also said he was just a student when the incident took place and one of his witnesses was then Governor Wahab Akbar.
Ong said they will expedite the issuance of the resolution to release those who are wrongfully arrested.
“Some of the explanations are really satisfactory for me. We will issue a resolution as soon as possible [but] this is subject to the approval because this case is already in court,” Ong said.
The DOJ reinvestigating panel is composed of Asst. State Prosecutors (ASP) Mary JaneSytat, Josie Christina Dugay, Marmarie Satin-Vivas, and Benito Sales.
There are a total of 135 accused in the kidnapping case.