Quantcast
Latest Stories

‘Why are they not running out of bullets?’

By , Julie S. Alipala
,

LINING UP FOR SHELTER Residents displaced by fighting between gov’t troops and MNLF rebels join a long queue to get into an evacuation center at a sports complex in Zamboanga City on Friday, the 12th day of the urban warfare. EDWIN BACASMAS

Wondering why Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels occupying coastal villages in Zamboanga City were still fighting after 12 days, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday ordered military officials to find out who was supplying ammunition to the insurgents.

The President spent a seventh day monitoring from an undisclosed place the final military offensive to crush 30 to 40 rebels holding 20 hostages on the Zamboanga coast.

“They don’t seem to run out of [ammunition]. He has asked [military] officials to look into that,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters in Malacañang.

“They came prepared,” military spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told reporters in Zamboanga City, answering the same question as the President’s.

There were reports that the rebels stockpiled weapons and ammunition in Zamboanga City long before the MNLF force led by Habier Malik stormed ashore early on Sept. 9.

But Zagala said it was “only a matter of time” before the rebels run out of ammunition.

 

Civilian supporters

A 14-year-old boy who was rescued from his MNLF captors in Santa Catalina village on Thursday told the Inquirer that the rebels got additional supplies of ammunition from their civilian supporters.

The boy (whose name the Inquirer is withholding because he is a minor) said there were times when MNLF commanders directed their men to take some of the hostages, preferably young ones, and leave the village to get firearms and ammunition.

“They got firearms and ammunition from the villages of Talon-Talon and Taluksangay,” the boy said in Bisaya.

The boy was rescued in the company of a suspected MNLF rebel who claimed he was a hostage and his name was Wilfredo Ramirez.

Col. Jemar Johnson Aseron, commander of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, said he checked the list of hostages and found that Ramirez was 67 years old, while the suspected rebel was in his 30s.

“We immediately separated the boy and he admitted that his companion was a rebel,” Aseron said.

Medicines, too

Freed hostage Maricel Teves, who was wounded in captivity, said the rebels also had medicines and they treated her.

“They have supplies (of medicines),” Teves said.

She said the rebels knew the area, moving around the villages of Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Kasanyangan and Rio Hondo.

“They said they planned this a long time ago and that their firearms were already in these areas,” Teves said.

She said she had heard Paul Aukasa, an MNLF member from Basilan province, say that the group planned the attack even before the monthlong feast of Ramadan (July 10 to Aug. 9).

 

Support in villages

Former hostage Junior Morte, 60, said the MNLF rebels conserved their ammunition.

“They don’t shoot because they have to. They shoot if the need arises and if they need to defend or protect their position,” Morte said.

“I’ve seen how they deploy snipers, and they wait while the other side (military) is delivering heavy fire on their position,” he said.

Morte said Malik had “maps and contacts in the villages.”

He said Malik had bragged to the hostages that his group had support in the villages of Rio Hondo, Mariki, Talon-Talon and Mampang and that he and his men had enough food and ammunition.

Morte, who escaped from the rebels on Sept. 13, said the MNLF fighters did not carry boxes of ammunition.

“They just go to the houses where they left their supplies,” he said.

 

Down in number

After 12 days of fighting, government security forces have whittled down the number of the Moro rebels from 200 to a small band boxed in a 3-to-7-hectare area on the Zamboanga coast.

Zagala said on Friday the government troops were going after 40 MNLF fighters.

In a talk with reporters on Thursday, President Aquino called on the remaining rebels to surrender to prevent further bloodshed.

“Life is precious to me,” Mr. Aquino said, addressing the rebel holdouts. “You may want to consider your life precious as well.”

Mr. Aquino gave the rebels from Nur Misuari’s faction of the MNLF an ultimatum.

“It is not too late to end this, so we can put a stop to the deaths and injuries. That is in your hands,” the President said.

Fighting to death

But the remaining followers of Misuari in Zamboanga City reportedly have decided to fight to death.

Sulu-based university professor Octavio Dinampo said Friday that Malik had sent text messages to other MNLF leaders saying he and his men would no longer withdraw and would “make Zamboanga their graveyard,” as the “losses to fellow Muslims and everyone else” were their responsibility and they should “answer for all of it with their lives.”

Dinampo said an MNLF friend passed the message to him around 3 p.m. on Friday.

In that message, Malik said he would surrender only if Misuari told him to do so, Dinampo said.

Dinampo said Malik, an Amir (religious leader), claimed to have performed a ritual among his remaining fighters.

“They prefer to die as martyrs in a place where they are now stuck,” Dinampo told the Inquirer by phone.

He did not say where that place was.

20 remaining hostages

Fighting continued in Zamboanga City on Friday. Two soldiers were wounded in fighting in Santa Barbara village, while two civilians were hit in a crossfire in Santa Catalina village, the military said.

Twelve days of fighting left 92 rebels, 12 soldiers, three policemen and seven civilians dead.

One hundred ten soldiers, 13 policemen, 69 civilians and nine rebels have been wounded in the fighting.

The fighting has displaced 118,819 people who are now sheltered in 57 evacuation centers in Zamboanga City and other safe places on the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Six rebels surrendered on Thursday, the military said, bringing to 72 the number of Misuari’s followers who have either surrendered or been captured.

Misuari’s followers seized about 200 civilians when they stormed into five coastal villages on Sept. 9.

One hundred seventy eight of those hostages have either escaped or were rescued. One was killed in the crossfire between the rebels and the government troops.

Twenty remain in the hands of the cornered rebels.

Abandoned by the Navy

Friday, Narabelle Bue, spokesperson for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the region, said the agency would send food to evacuees on Tigbaon Island, two hours by boat from mainland Zamboanga.

The evacuees are residents of Mampang village, where government troops battled MNLF rebels on Tuesday.

The residents fled the village in boats but were intercepted by the BRP Bacolod of the Philippine Navy.

They said the Navy sailors ordered them to board the Bacolod, tied the hands of the men with rope and made them wait to be interrogated.

On Wednesday, instead of bringing the evacuees to an evacuation center in Zamboanga City, the Navy took them to Tigbaon Island and left them there.

One of the evacuees had been sending text messages to the Inquirer, saying there was no food on the island.

The Inquirer informed the DSWD about the evacuees’ situation on Friday and the agency said it would send food to them. With a report from AP

RELATED STORY:

Gov’t seeks probe into MNLF ammunition supply

First posted 6:08 pm | Friday, September 20th, 2013


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Abigail Valte , Aquino Administration , Benigno Aquino III , Habier Malik , Military , MNLF , Moro National Liberation Front , Nur Misuari , President Aquino , Regions , Zamboanga City , zamboanga conflict




To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Nepal officials go to Everest to try to end crisis
  • Escudero ready to defend self should name appear in Napoles’ list
  • Obama calls for peaceful end to island dispute
  • Russia not abiding by agreement on Ukraine—Obama
  • Magnitude 6.7 quake off British Columbia coast
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement