Military, Basilan execs seek reason for slays of 3 ‘assets’
ZAMBOANGA CITY –– The military has joined Basilan local leaders in demanding an explanation from the Philippine National Police’s 84th Seaborne Special Action Force (SAF) for the killing, in a raid on Friday, of three of its military assets.
Army Major Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the joint raid by the police and National Bureau of Investigation in Hadji Muhammad Ajul town was never coordinated with the military.
“There was no coordination with the unit on the ground before the operation was conducted,” Encinas lamented.
On Friday, August 2, around 3:30 a.m., police and NBI operatives raided the houses of Aljan Mande and two civilian militias in Sitio Kasanyangan, Barangay Candiis.
Mohammad Ajul mayor Ibrahim Ballaho said the raid resulted in the killing of brothers Aljan and Jamsid Mande, and Radjak Ammah, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the barangay.
Encinas said all three victims “supported the military’s campaign in convincing more Abu Sayyaf bandits to return to the fold of the law.”
In the raid, the SAF also arrested a civilian militia identified as Jayyari Sali; Staff Sergeant Leonard S. Adonis, a retired soldier; Omar Jama; and a certain Marvin, Adonis’ farmworker, Ballaho said.
Police Colonel Rufino Inot, Basilan provincial police director, disclosed that the SAF and NBI made no prior coordination with his office for Friday’s operation.
“They operated but they never informed us, we are currently gathering further information here,” Inot said.
Blow to anti-terror drive
The Mande brothers used to be Abu Sayyaf members. They surrendered to the military two years ago and have since joined in the campaign to convince their former colleagues to turn their backs on banditry.
They were recipients of aid from the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Program Against Violent Extremism that bridged them into normal civilian life.
After undergoing vocational training with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority, the Mandes were enrolled with the Education Department’s Alternative Learning System program.
“This incident is serious. We worry about the others who surrendered and those who are still planning to surrender,” Ballaho said.
Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, is furious at the turn of events.
“I cannot say anything at this time, better ask the SAF Seaborne in Zamboanga City. They operated in our areas without prior coordination,” Reyeg said.
“The local government of Basilan worked hard to bring these people down to live normal lives,” said Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumaoas, executive director of the nongovernment Save the Children of Basilan from War, expressing dismay at the incident.
Her group is active in activities geared at psychological healing for children of former Abu Sayyaf bandits and other armed groups in Basilan.
Signs of torture
Jumaoas noted that the bodies of the three victims were “riddled with bullets, (and) were all shot at the nape, heart, back and head.”
She said the bodies bore signs of torture.
“There were melted candles in the different parts of their bodies. Their heads and faces bore signs of hematoma, indications that they were beaten before they were shot,” Jumaoas explained.
“If these SAF have prior information about their renewed activities with the Abu Sayyaf, they should have informed the local authorities, or before operating, they should have inquired and coordinated with the security forces,” Jumaoas lamented.
Both the NBI and SAF have kept mum about the Friday incident.
The Inquirer learned that the SAF brought the bodies of the three victims at Villa Funeral homes here. /lzb