August 9, 2001, Inquirer, ABU-AFP Conspiracy: Kidnapped priest says FBI also suspects military, by Alexander M. Young and Julie Alipala-Inot, Inquirer News Service, Posted: 11:25 PM (Manila Time)
Out in the open
LAMITAN, Basilan -- After accusing top military officials of conniving with the Abu Sayyaf, Catholic priest and kidnap victim Cirilo Nacorda claimed that even the US Federal Bureau of Investigation was pursuing the conspiracy angle as early as June this year.
Nacorda, who managed to escape from the bandit group during its June 2 attack on the St. Peter's Parish Church and Dr. Jose Ma. Torres Memorial Hospital in Lamitan, said the FBI told him about information that could indicate a conspiracy between certain military officials and leaders of the Abu Sayyaf.
He said he came out in the open after the siege early this month of Barangay Balobo because he could "no longer stomach the activities of the military in Basilan." He claimed that the conspiracy theory arose during his meeting with FBI agents at the US Embassy in Manila.
"FBI agents approached me several times, until I finally accepted their invitation. We met last July 3 at the US Embassy, and I was surprised to see the amount of information they gathered on the possible military conspiracy," Nacorda told the INQUIRER in an exclusive interview.
He said the agents disclosed to him detailed accounts from several sources, including police authorities, which supported the conspiracy theory. But he said that until that time, they had not been able to get a first-hand account from someone taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf.
"They revealed to me their information, I told them my story," Nacorda said. "When I finished telling them my story, one of the agents said, 'Now our information is confirmed.'"
At the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center, Hector Janjalani, younger brother of the late Abu Sayyaf founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, confirmed the supposed connivance of certain military, police and government officials with the Abu Sayyaf. Hector Janjalani said that based on what he had learned from his brother, government officials were helping arm Abu Sayyaf members or masterminding abductions themselves.
On Wednesday, Nacorda, parish priest of Lamitan, accused five military officers of conniving with the Abu Sayyaf hostage-takers and allowing them to escape from the compound of the Lamitan hospital on June 2.
He named them as Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, then 1st Tabak Division commander; Col. Jovenal Narcise, the previous acting 103rd Army Brigade commander; two Narcise aides, Capt. Hubert Acierto and Capt. Nicolas Quemado; and the executive officer of the 18th Infantry Battalion, Maj. Eliseo Campued.
Dominguez has denied the accusation.
Nacorda said that on June 2, Dominguez went to Zamboanga to meet with the families of some of the Abu Sayyaf hostages, including those of Raul Recio. The meeting took place while the siege on the hospital and church was taking place and the bandits and their captives were holed up in the church compound.