Saturday, December 12, 2009

More massacres in Mindanao than other parts of the country

The Manila Times
Saturday, 12 December 2009 22:16

There have been more massacres in Mindanao than in other parts of the Philippines.
Among the massacres are those perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf.
The first Abu Sayyaf attack was on March 20, 2000. The Abu Sayyaf raided the predominantly Christian town of Tumahubong on the remote southern side of Basilan island, facing the island province of Sulu, and kidnapped 50, mostly Christian students, teachers, principals and priests from two schools (Muslim students were let go). The terrorists were apparently angry because the teachers had not paid their monthly “donations” to Abu Sayyaf. While waiting for ransom monies to arrive, Abu Sayyaf members made good on their promise to behead several male teachers and rape at least one woman.

A second Abu Sayyaf attack was on April 23, 2000 at the famous divers’ resort called Sipadan, located a few miles offshore from the northeastern tip of Borneo. Sipadan today is not even part of the Philippines; rather it belongs to the Malaysian State of Sabah. However, in the past, Sabah belonged to the Sulu Sultanate, a fact known by Galib Andang, a.k.a. Commander Robot, the 33-year-old Tausug from Jolo island who ran this particular hostage operation. He regaled the 23 kidnapped hotel guests with the usual Wahhabi vitriol about Western alcohol, sex, materialism, AIDS, greed and infidelity, which the Muslim terrorists did not want on “their islands.” Exquisitely skilled in rallying the media, Robot successfully upgraded himself and his group from the status of a local to an international-level Islamic Movement. This bravado means much to the Tausags.

A third Abu Sayyaf kidnapping occurred on May 28, 2001 at Dos Palmas (Two Palms) Island Resort at Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan island, Philippines. Approximately 20 male and female hostages were abducted and marched around the jungles of Basilan, some of them for over a year. One man was brutally beheaded when Abu Sayyaf terrorists perceived that ransoms weren’t being paid in a timely manner. Several women were taken as wives by their captors and one even became pregnant by Khaddafy Janjalani, which allowed her to leave the group and get medical treatment, much to her relief.

The leaders of this kidnapping were Abu Sabaya and Khaddafy Janjalani. Evidently they had rested up sufficiently from the March 20, 2003 abduction of the school children to take on another operation. Bills must be paid.

More recently the Abus have made the news kidnapping priests and school principals.

They abducted workers of the International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) in January 2009.
In 1991 to 1992 the Abu Sayyaf Group attacked several Christian churches, missionaries and communities. They killed two American evangelists when they threw grenades in Zamboanga City.
They bombed the Christian missionary ship MV Doulos.

On December 26, 1993, they killed six people and wounded 132 others when they bombed the Davao City Catholic Cathedral.

On June 10, 1994 they killed 71 people in bomb attacks in Zamboanga City.

On April 4, 1995, the Abus raided Ipil town in Zamboanga del Sur (now Zamboanga Sibugay) and killed at least 53 people and wounded 48 others.

On March 20, 2000, they kidnapped more than 50 students and teachers from two schools in Tumahubong, Sumisip, Basilan and killed four of the hostages.

On April 23, 2000, they kidnapped 19 foreigners and two Filipinos from a resort in Sipadan, Malaysia. Most of the hostages were released after paying ransom.

In May 2000, they kidnapped 10 foreign journalists in Jolo, Sulu, but released them after 10 hours.
There were many more Abu kidnappings but no killings until May 27, 2001.

On that day the Abus abducted 20 foreign and Filipino tourists from Dos Palmas beach resort in Palawan.
They were brought to Basilan. The government then launched a military rescue operation to free the hostages, including Americans Guillermo Sobero, Martin Burnham and Gracia Burnham. Only Gracia survived. Her husband died of illness. Sobero was beheaded.

On August 20, 2002, the Abus kidnapped six Filipino Jehovah’s Witness missionaries in Sulu. Two of them were beheaded. The other four were rescued.

On May 4, 2003, the Abus bombed the Davao International Airport in which 21 people were killed and 166 others were wounded.

On February 27, 2004, six persons linked to the Abu Sayyaf caused a SuperFerry to explode and catch fire. At least 100 were killed.

On July 10, 2007, 50 soldiers sent to find and rescue a missing Italian priest were ambushed by the Abus. Fourteen were killed. Ten of the soldiers were beheaded.

On May 18, 2009, the Abus beheaded a farmer, Doroteo Gonzales.

On November 9, 2009, the head of Kanague Elementary School principal Gabriel Canizares was found by policemen in Jolo. He was among a group of teachers who had been abducted on October 19 in Patikul, Sulu.

Jabidah massacre

The Jabidah massacre on March 18, 1968, is also called the Corregidor massacre. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers massacred at least 28 Moro recruits they were training to enter and make trouble in Sabah.

The Jabidah massacre is seen as having been the immediate cause of the subsequent Moro insurgencies in Mindanao.

From the Philippine Army website, here are excerpts from “A Mindanao Story-Troubled Decades in the Eye of the Storm”

By Maj. Gen. Delfin Castro (Ret), former commander of SOUTHCOM AFP from 1980 to 1986.
Wee urge readers to read the whole account, which is one of the most moving and heroic narratives of Philippine soldiers’ heroism and valor.

(From Chapter 4: The Reward of Persuasion: Bloodbath in Pata)

(Here begins Gen. Delfin Castro’s account):
Even as the NPA [New People’s Army] was being checked along the Davao-Agusan boundary, the incident was shaping up in Sulu, one of that had echoes of the Patikul massacre of 10 October 1977 and that would characterize the duplicity and ferocity of the conflict in the southern islands in those years. In time, it came to be known as the Pata Massacre. The 3rd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division had launched an operation in Pata Island on February 9, 1981 in the wake of reported landings of an undetermined number of MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front] forces somewhere at Barangay Pata Likud. The 31st Infantry Battalion was at the forefront while two other battalions were screening on the mainland side. The Brigade set up its Advance Command Post in Patian Island, the next island away from Pata. As a result, Mayor Burahan of Pata called a meeting of island leaders in Barangay Saimbangon on February 10 to assess the situation. Among those who attended were Vice-Mayor Ombra Tagid-gid, Omar Ali, Faisal, Issa, Kadaffy, Salahuddin, Moharam and CHDF Commander Unad Masillam of Pata Likud. Barangay leaders denied presence of MNLF elements in the in their barangays.

Assured that no MNLF forces had landed, the 31st IB [Infantry Battalion] began to pull out on February 12, leaving only the Headquarters Service Company of the battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jacinto Sardual still planned to call on Commander Unad Masillam before leaving.

Earlier that morning, Unad had a meeting in his residence with Omar Ali, Faisal, Issa, Kadaffy, Salahuddin, Moharam and his son Dindiong Masillam on rumored information that their fire-arms would be confiscated by the 31st IB before it left the island. This however, looked like a calculated provocateur’s move by Unad as most of the troops had already left the island.

The meeting was going on when Sardual arrived to call on Unad before leaving with the rest of his battalion. He was accompanied by just a few men. Unad and his group accompanied Lt. Col. Sardual back to where the Headquarters Service Company was encamped. Unad then told Sardual to have the company formed and their arms stacked so they could shake hands and bid each other farewell. Why Sardual, going against all norms and tenets of combat common sense, gave the orders for such and why the company officers in turn passed the order to the men can hardly be imagined. But the order went out and the men complied, except for a few who did not join the formation.

While the company stood in formation, their arms neatly stacked, over 400 armed men of Unad and his allies quietly ringed them and then let loose searing volleys of automatic fire. With comrades shredded and falling like bowling pins around them, soldiers attempted to get to their stacked firearms, to no avail. Only the few that did not join the formation were able to return effective fire. But they were badly outnumbered and the outcome was inevitable.

When the smoked cleared and the guns fell silent, 119 officers and men lay lifeless; Sardual’s body sprawled among those of his men. The headquarters service company of 31st IB had ceased to exist in a matter of minutes. Some bodies were mutilated and burned. They had been looted of uniforms, shoes, wallets, watches and other valuables. Over 120 firearms and over a million rounds of assorted ammunition fell into Unad’s hands.

The Pata massacre was classic execution of one of Misuaris’s stratagems—for certain MNLF elements to join the government and at a given opportunity, to sabotage the returnee program of the government from within. Later, Commander Unad and his son Dindiong slipped away from the island—and their reward for what they had done: important positions in the military hierarchy of the Misuari faction.
A damning silence.

That fateful morning, I arrived in Jolo to check on the 1st Division accompanied by Lanao Sur Governor Ali Dimaporo who was scheduled to visit Sulu Governor Mus Izquierdo. After the amenities, Division Commander Brig. Gen. Emilio Luga proposed that we visit the Advance Command post of Col. Rodolfo Canieso at Patian Island. Canieso reported an ongoing operation in Pata Island, but nothing of the tragedy that had befallen the ill-fated 31st commander and his HQ Company. I wanted to go to Pata to look things over but he dissuaded us from proceeding, saying it might interfere with operations. Instead, he proposed that we accompany him to Juambal Island, some three islands away to the west, where he was supposed to accept the surrender of a rebel group. We went, using three UH1H Huey helicopters. I asked where the rebels were and what security arrangements had been prepared for their coming out. It turned out there were none! Only a handful of Special Forces personnel had arranged the surrender and it was to be in a swamp clearing about 100 meters from where we landed.

We were supposed to enter this swamp area to accept the surrender. I took Brig. Gen. Luga aside, whispering that we were not to enter the swamp and to prepare to leave the area as quickly and as quietly as possible. I then spoke to the lead helicopter pilot, telling him that I would cross a small water channel and once I started crossing back, to get the Huey’s blades whirling and ready for immediate take-off. We did just that. I told Col. Canieso and the surrender coordinator we would come back later as the ceremonies might take some time and that Governors Izquierdo and Dimaporo were expecting us at a coordination meeting.

We left Jumabal Island quickly behind and returned to Patian Island to drop off Col. Canieso who insisted on our having lunch there. Up to this time, Canieso kept a tight lip on events at Pata. I even accepted the surrender of some 60 rebels with Sulu Gov. Izquierdo, Lanao Sur Gov. Dimaporo, Sulu Vice-Governor Tupay Loong 1st Division Commander Brig. Gen. Emilio Luga, Jr. witnessing the ceremony. Later, Brig. Gen Luga brought me to Taglibi to see the progress of the BLISS housing project of the Ministry of Human Settlements. From Jolo, we proceeded to Manila where that evening, while attending an Airforce function, an urgent call from President Marcos about the incident in Pata took all the luster of my evening away.

I had to tell the President I was near Pata that morning but had been kept in the dark about the gravity of the situation. The President informed me he had directed the Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy to send available ships to cruise the waters around Pata and neighboring islands and to support the landing of additional troops.

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