August 21, 2001, Inquirer, 5 senators head for Basilan,
Posted: 11:03 PM (Manila Time)
Inquirer News Service
FIVE senators led by Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. travel to Lamitan, Basilan, Thursday for the Senate's first hearing of the allegations of Lamitan parish priest Cirilo Nacorda that some military officials were conniving with the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Magsaysay, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said Senators Renato Cayetano, John Osmeña, Gregorio Honasan and Noli de Castro are coming with him to conduct the hearing at the St. Peter Apostle Church in Lamitan.
He told reporters that Thursday's hearing will focus only on the testimonies of Nacorda and other civilian witnesses.
Nacorda accused five military officials of allowing the escape of Abu Sayyaf bandits from a military-cordoned hospital compound in Lamitan on June 2.
In Isabela, the Army said three Scout Rangers were wounded while an unidentified Abu Sayyaf bandit was killed in an encounter in Barangay Bulanza, Lantawan town.
Capt. Montano Almodavar, chief of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, identified the wounded soldiers as Pfc. Michael Perocho, Sgt. Rodel Bonifacio and Pvt. Castro Kitong.
Almodavar said the bandits, reportedly led by Omair Sali, also suffered casualties. He said although they retrieved the body of the slain bandit, "we saw around five more Abu Sayyaf rebels limping in their escape."
Almodavar said they saw five women with the 40 bandits. "We believe they are hostages. That posed a problem to us, kung wala lang sila, we could have finished this 45 minutes firefight favoring our side." Julie Alipala-Inot, Jonathan F. Ma and Aquiles Z. Zonio, PDI Mindanao Bureau