Pols terrorizing island town in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Terror is stalking residents of the island town of Pata in Sulu and it’s not coming from extremists, but politicians.
Residents appealed for government help to prevent another attack on their island community which one of them said was triggered by the residents’ refusal to commit support to the incumbent mayor, Anton Burahan.
“We are powerless,” said 60-year-old Bidin Jubail, a resident of Saimbangon, one of the villages on Pata island.
Jubail recalled an attack on the island town allegedly by followers of Burahan on Jan. 2 who were armed with M203 grenade launcher, and M-14 and M-16 rifles.
“They got mad at us because they learned we are supporting young professionals who we believe have the potential to bring development to our town,” Jubail said.
During the Jan. 2 attack, armed villagers tried to fight back and the clash lasted for at least 16 hours.
The gun battle ceased only after soldiers and policemen reached the place in the afternoon of Jan. 3.
Julamin Jubail, Bidin’s son, described the attack as “one-sided because their weapons were high-powered and they had enough ammunition.”
“We are very afraid now,” said the younger Jubail.
“All we are asking from the national government is to send more soldiers, and not police forces as they are controlled by the local government,” he said.
He added that classes in the town’s elementary and high schools have been suspended as teachers, fearing they would be caught in the cross fire, refused to report for work.
Vice Mayor Alrasdy Sarapuddin, 34, denied an earlier report that he was behind the attack as Sulu Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan had claimed.
“It’s not true. We were the ones who were attacked,” he said.
Sarapuddin, a nephew of Mayor Burahan, is running for mayor. The younger Jubail is Sarapuddin’s running mate and is facing the mayor’s wife, Nurmina, in the May elections.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri, in an interview, said he would check why local government officials were armed and attacked civilians on Pata island.
“It is only now that I learned that our Armed Forces and the police did not immediately act on it,” said Iriberri.
“We will look into that and I am sure our commanders will never allow our civilians to be threatened and harassed by a group,” Iriberri said. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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