Wednesday, August 15, 2012

52 dead as MNLF men attack Army outposts in Sulu, by A. R. Ilagan, F. Wakefield & N. E. Lacson,

November 20, 2001, Manila Bulletin, 52 dead as MNLF men attack Army outposts in Sulu, by A. R. Ilagan, F. Wakefield & N. E. Lacson, Tuesday,

At least 52 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded as followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari attacked Army outposts in Jolo, Sulu, officials said.

President Arroyo immediately ordered the military to employ the "full force" of its resources against armed followers of Misuari, presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said.

Arroyo, who is on a week-long working visit to the United States, sees "no need" to cut short her trip, Tiglao said.

But she ordered the defense department and the armed forces to "use the full force of the military against whatever group this is, which launched the attack," Tiglao told Manila reporters by telephone from Washington.

Asked what action the government was planning against Misuari, Tiglao said: "We have to verify the information, first, if he really led the attacks, and secondly, get information from him."

However, Misuari could not be located, he added.

The shelling of the army's 104th Infantry Brigade headquarters near the airport in Jolo began early Monday and continued sporadically until around noon. The fighting subsided by midafternoon, said Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, chief of the military's Southern Command.

"It's a deliberate plan to show to the government that the MNLF still has teeth," said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Adilberto Adan.

Cimatu said four soldiers were killed and 27 others, including an army colonel, were wounded. Members of a faction of the MNLF suffered 48 dead and 13 wounded after a military counter-attack, including air strikes on guerrilla positions and their stronghold in nearby Parang town, he said.

Suod Tan, mayor of Jolo, said more than 10 civilians also were injured in the crossfire and hundreds of people fled their homes near areas occupied by MNLF fighters trying to close in on the army camp.

Residents fleeing the scene said they saw MNLF guerrillas occupying a school about 50 meters from the camp perimeter and firing mortars and M-79 grenade launchers. Cimatu denied rumors of mass defection by former MNLF guerrillas who have been integrated into the military, saying only one officer facing charges of misconduct rejoined his former comrades.

Cimatu said about 200 guerrillas involved in the attack belong to a faction of the MNLF headed by Misuari, governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who has opposed a scheduled election next Monday.

The resumption of hostilities between the government and the faction of the MNLF loyal to Misuari has triggered a division among Moslem lawmakers.

Representatives Benasing Macarambon Jr. (NPA, Lanao del Sur), Hussin Amin (LDP, Sulu), and Didagen Dilangalen (Independent, Maguindanao) asked the Arroyo government to keep off the intramural among MNLF leaders.

Macarambon and Amin are also calling for the cancellation of the ARMM polls.

However, fellow Moslem Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, said Misuari's alleged tantrums should not stop government from holding the ARMM polls.

Dimaporo also expressed confidence on the military's capability to restore peace and order in Mindanao.

The MNLF has been factionalized since early this year after several senior leaders ousted Misuari as MNLF chairman. Misuari claims the election violates the peace agreement he signed with Manila in 1996.

MNLF spokesman Abdulrahman Jamasali said the Organization of Islamic Conference, the global association of Moslem states, has called on the Philippine government not to hold any election or plebiscite to give time for implementing the peace accord.

The peace accord formally ended more than 30 years of the minority Moslems struggle for self-rule that killed more than 120,000 people. However, sporadic clashes have continued between troops and the MNLF.

The government is holding separate talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which broke away from the MNLF in the 1980s.

5 outposts

Elements of the Philippine Army y repulsed yesterday a large number of heavily armed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels who initiated simultaneous attacks on five Army detachments in Jolo and its neighboring towns in Sulu which resulted to the killing of 48 MNLF guerrillas and three soldiers, reports reaching Fort Bonifacio in Makati City said.

Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Command (Southcom) based in Zamboanga City, said in his report to Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos, Philippine Army chief, said that 27 soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

According to Cimatu, the heavily armed MNLF rebels identified with former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari stormed the Headquarters of the 104th Infantry Brigade insitio Busbus, Jolo, at about 8 a.m.

Initial reports identified the first batch of wounded soldiers in the attacks as Lt. Dominador Macalintal, Technical Sgt. Isidro Ilustico, and Staff Sgt. Armando Calibubo.

The 104th Infantry Brigade was under the command of Col. Romeo Tolentino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1974, when the attack was staged by the rebels.

Almost simultaneously, another band of armed MNLF rebels bombarded the headquarters of the Second Scout Ranger Battalion located in the neighboring town of Talipao.

The Scout Rangers led by Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcos, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1983, took their defensive position and prevented the MLF rebels from occupying their headquarters.

Cimatu also said that a camp located at Sitio Tanjung also in Jolo being manned by former MNLF rebels who have been integrated to the AFP was also attacked by the rebels.

The MLNF integrees proved their loyalty to the government by fighting their former comrades, Cimatu added.

Two other Army camps were subjected to attacks and harassed by MNLF forces as Philippine Army troopers engaged them in fierce firefight .

The Southcom has deployed several helicopter gunships and OV-10 Bronco Fighters to conduct bombing raids on several MNLF positions.

The Southcom also sent additional troops from Zamboanga peninsula to Sulu Island to neutralize the MNLF's forces.

"We have anticipated this. We have prepared for their attacks," Lt. Col. Jose Mabanta, Philippine Army spokesman, said in an interview at Fort Bonifacio.

Mabanta said that they also monitored a re-grouping of heavily armed MNLF fighters in Sitio Kabatangan in Zamboanga City which prompted them to double their security measures to prevent another attack from the rebel group.

Elements of Task Force Zambaonga led by Col. Alexander Yano have positioned themselves in strategic areas to prevent the MNLF to strike anew on government targets in Zamboanga City and its adjacent areas. (ARI)

Indanan raid

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Southcom Command spokesman Col. Danilo Servando said yesterday former MNLF rebels loyal to former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari attacked the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion based in Indanan, Sulu.

Southcom said government troops recovered 23 bodies of rebels, including three bodies of soldiers at the encounter site.

Colonel Servando clarified that the rebels only took control of Ajid detachment in barangay Silangkan, Indanan.

Report said the rebels is now controlling the entire town of Indanan after they were able to capture the military in barangay Silangkan.

The detachment is being manned by a 21-man Army soldiers. He said there was no firefight between the soldiers and the rebels.

"Our soldiers had just abandoned the detachment. There were no firefight between government troops and the rebels identified with Misuari," Servando said.

Commercial establishments in Jolo, Sulu, were closed the whole day yesterday.

Several residents fled the town.

Classes in all levels were cancelled while public utility transport slowed down their trip outside the town yesterday. (NEL)

The resumption of hostilities between government forces and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front allied with Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Gov. Nur Misuari has triggered division among Muslim lawmakers who usually are solid over issues affecting the South.

Reps. Benasing Macarambon Jr. (NPC, Lanao del Sur), Hussin Amin (LDP, Sulu), and Didagen Dilangalen (Independent, Maguindanao) asked the Arroyo government to keep off the intramurals among MNLF leaders.

Macarambon and Amin are also calling for the cancellation of the ARMM polls that would be held next week.

However, fellow Muslim Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, chairman of the House committee on Muslim affairs, said Misuari's "tantrums" should not stop government from holding the polls. He stressed that posponing the elections has nothing to do with the internal problems of the MNLF.

"He (Misuari) is merely showing that he wants to hold on to power. If he really is a man of peace, he should exert all effors to find peaceful ways to get what he wants instead of declaring war against the government he served," Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte said.

Dimaporo expressed confidence in the military's capability to restore peace and order in Mindanao, particularly in ARMM territories.

Misuari has reportedly declared that the MNLF would resume its war against the government whom he accused of interfering in internal squabbles in his organization in a bid to dismantle his leadership.

Macarambon blamed both military and political advisers of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for attempting to "marginalize" Misuari without realizing that the MNLF chieftain remains a strong force to reckon with in the organization.

Despite his call for the immediate postponement of ARMM elections, Macarambon believes such move cannot placate Misuari's "wounded pride."

The Lanao del Sur solon said that canceling the elections could give way to a ceasefire and thus, force peace negotiations in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Amin withdrew his candidacy for ARMM governor to serve the "greater interest of the people" of the ARMM.

"I withdraw my candidacy because I believe that it is for the greater interest of the people of the ARMM that in this election, the governor will be elected by the majority of the electorate, which may not possible with the present number of candidates for the position," Amin said. (Ben R. Rosario)

Lost respect

Administration Sen. Ramon B. Magsaysay Jr., chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, said yesterday Nur Misuari, ousted chairman of the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has lost the respect and dignity that he has maintained as head of two government agencies.

Opposition Sen. Rodolfo G. Biazon, committee vice chairman, said the Misuari problem should be dealt with immediately with the government declaring the former University of the Philippines (UP) professor as a terrorist.

Although the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is responding adequately to Misuari rebellion, Biazon said the problem needs a political solution by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Misuari, ousted as MNLF chief by an executive committee of the MNLF itself, had been successful in delaying three times in a three-year period scheduled elections to widen the political boundaries of the ARMM and election of new set of ARMM officials. He had claimed that the ARMM election on Nov. 26 violates the terms of the Tripoli (Libya) agreement forged during the Marcos regime.

"It is a great setback to our country, particularly the Filipino Muslim population. But it is more of a setback to the person himself (Misuari) owing to the trust bestowed him by former President Ramos," Magsaysay said.

ARMM polls

ZAMBOANGA CITY - The military has beefed up its forces in Zamboanga City and in provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) after outgoing chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front Nur Misuari threatened to disrupt the forthcoming ARMM elections.

Reports received by the Army's 104th Bridgade based in Busbus, Jolo, disclosed that Misuari has held a series of meetings with leaders of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf asking for full support to carry out terror acts during the elections.

Sulu Gov. Yusop Jikiri, who is a former chief of staff of the MNLF sacked by Misuari, has said that he is going to defend Sulu with thousands of his MNLF followers.

Col. Romeo Tolentino, commander of the 104th Brigade, said his command has maximized deployment of troops in all areas of Sulu, especially in the capital town of Jolo, anticipating moves from the group of Misuari.

In his report to the Southern Command, Tolentino said intelligence operatives have confirmed reports that Nur Misuari had held meetings with Abu Sayyaf leaders like Ghalib Andang alias "Commander Robot," Mujib Susukan, and Murphy Imbang in Mt. Pianan, Silangkan, Sulu.

Tolentino said the last meeting was conducted by Misuari last Nov. 8 where the latter allegedly discussed his plans to disrupt the Nov. 26 ARMM polls.

Three months ago, Misuari organized the so-called "Mutalla Forces," a group of new recruits, after the main MNLF group threw their support to the newly organized Committee of 15.

Two weeks ago, Misuari met with the remaining MNLF leaders who are loyal to him during a congress at Silankan, Parang, Sulu where a 15-point resolution was passed calling for the full implementation of the provision of the 1996 peace agreement. (Vic P. Arevalo)

No comments: