AFP admits knowing of bomber’s presence in Kato’s funeral ‘after the fact’
TOP leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), including Filipino suspected bomb expert and terrorist Basit Usman, were able to attend the burial of the terrorist group’s founder, Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato in Maguindanao last week but the military learned about it only “after the fact.”
Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told a press briefing on Wednesday, that the military intelligence received information that Usman was sighted at the burial of Kato only after the burial.
Kakilala said that other BIFF personalities present during the burial were newly installed BIFF chief Esmael Abubakar alias Commander Bungos, BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama, and Kagi Karialan, the group’s tactical leader. (In a report filed by the Inquirer Mindanao bureau, however, Mama said he did not attend the burial because the place was too far from where he was and that Kato was buried early in the morning.)
Asked why the military failed to arrest them, Kakilala quipped, “We just got the information after the fact … we got the information after the burial.”
Kato died last April 14 due to pulmonary illness but the military believed he died of a heart ailment. He was buried hours later in Barangay Kateman, Guindulungan, Maguindanao.
Kakilala acknowledged that getting Usman would not be easy. Usman was one of three targets of Operation Plan (Oplan) “Exodus” conducted by the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) last Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that resulted in the massacre of 44 police commandos.
“It would take time but we are focused on getting him,” he said.
Kakilala also downplayed the recent attacks launched by the BIFF leader against military installations, which wounded several soldiers as “purely harassment and not deliberate attack.”
“It’s not really serious threat,” he said. “There is no intention to deliberately attack or overrun the detachment or even to close in.”
Kakilala said the military was more intelligence-driven following the cessation of law enforcement operation.
“But they cannot move freely but they have to manuever s at night,” he said. SFM
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