The Philippine Star recently recoded their web presence, and in the process eliminating a very nice little articles archive they'd had up for at least ten years. I saved bits and pieces of that archive, which I present here:
Jan. 31, 2000, Philippine Star, Abu Sayyaf frees trader in Sulu after 70 days, Roel Pareño, Alvin Tarroza,
February 7, 2000, Abu Sayyaf rebels kidnap bank teller, by Roel Pareño,
February 15, 2000, The Philippine Star, Alert on in Sulu amid Sayyaf terror plot, by John Unson,
Jun 19, 2001, The Philippine Star, ‘Sobero dead, Janjalani alive’
Jun 14, 2001, The Philippine Star, Sobero beheading a bluff — AFP,
Jun 13, 2001, The Philippine Star, Sabaya claims they beheaded American,
Jun 11, 2001,The Philippine Star, Libya’s Gadhaffi offers help to end Sayyaf hostage crisiss
Jun 11, 2001,The Philippine Star, Lamitan battle a cover for ransom payment?
Jun 2, 2001, The Philippine Star, Troops clash with Abus
May 31, 2001 The Philippine Star, Military still in the dark on hostages
May 30, 2001 The Philippine Star, AFP: Vigilantes vs Sayyaf welcome
May 30, 2001, The Philippine Star, Military still in the dark on hostages
May 29, 2001, The Philippine Star, AFP: Vigilantes vs Sayyaf welcome
May 26, 2001, The Philippine Star, 87 safe conduct passes issued to NDF
August 31, 2002, The Philippine Star, No contact yet with Abus on Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Paolo Romero,
Thousands of troops have yet to find the Abu Sayyaf-linked band of kidnappers holding four women hostage on the third day of a rescue operation in an area near Patikul town in Sulu, the military said yesterday.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Eduardo Purificacion said troops have ringed the area where they believe the bandits, led by a nephew of an Abu Sayyaf leader, were holding the four Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian evangelists.
"There were near-contacts but no contacts as of now," Purificacion said. "I think there was a combined team that reached the area of the suspected hideout but only foodstuffs and items were found there."
He said unconfirmed intelligence reports indicated that the kidnappers were constantly on the move and that the hostages were still alive.
President Arroyo had earlier extended the term of Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Roy Cimatu up to Sept. 10 to enable him to resolve the latest hostage crisis.
Cimatu, who was scheduled to retire tomorrow, was the commander of military forces in the south before he became chief of staff.
However, Purificacion said it was impossible to tell when the hostage crisis would be resolved.
"The military is doing its best to finish the Abu Sayyaf in due time," Purificacion added. "I cannot tell because it also depends on the climactic conditions."
The hostages were seized on Aug. 20. Two Muslim guides were later freed and two other hostages, both males, were beheaded by the abductors.
The heads were put in ice boxes – with notes saying they were executed for being "infidels" to the Islamic faith – and left in a Patikul public market.
On Wednesday, the rescue operation was launched after negotiations for the hostages’ release failed.
Earlier, the military rejected a demand by the bandit gang, led by Muin Sahiron, a brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, for a troop pullout prior to the start of negotiations.
The latest hostage crisis was a reminder that the Abu Sayyaf and their offshoot groups still remain a threat despite joint US-Philippine counter-terrorism operations that ended last month.
Meanwhile, troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf bandits in two separate incidents on the island of Basilan, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.
An Abu Sayyaf commander was wounded and a henchman was killed in a gunbattle in the town of Tuburan.
According to reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo, the military headquarters in Quezon City, an army patrol found a group of seven Abu Sayyaf gunmen in barangay Canas.
The bandits retreated after a 30-minute gunbattle, only to encounter another military unit blocking their escape in another part of town.
An Abu Sayyaf leader, identified as Tots Murabal, was reported wounded and a henchman, identified as Hadji Murabal Isnijal, was killed.
In another incident, another army unit, accompanied by local militiamen, briefly shot it out with a group of ten Abu Sayyaf bandits led by one Commander Mingkong in the town of Sumisip.
No casualties on both sides were reported.
June 26, 2002, The Philippine Star, Sabaya informer gets P5-M, by Paolo Romero,
One of two informants of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), who was reportedly with Abu Sabaya and his minions on a getaway pumpboat, received from President Arroyo yesterday a check for P5 million as a reward for providing information that led to the gun battle where the Abu Sayyaf spokesman was slain last Friday.
Yesterday’s ceremonies were held at Malacañang, where the asset identified only as Gardo Ibrahim, an alias, revealed details that the government hoped would further bolster military claims that Sabaya had been killed.
Ibrahim saluted the President twice as she offered a handshake to congratulate him.
His P5-million reward was on top of the $1-million bounty being offered by the US for any information that would lead to the arrest of top Abu Sayyaf leaders.
Instead of an earlier statement that there were only Sabaya and six of his followers on board the pumpboat, military officials said Ibrahim and another government informant were also with Sabaya. Nine men instead of seven were on board.
Ibrahim told Palace reporters that he saw a fatally wounded Sabaya, whose real name is Aldam Tilao, falling into the shark-infested waters.
"Patay! Oo, totoo patay na siya. Totoong patay na siya! (He is dead. Yes, he is truly dead!)," Ibrahim said.
He said Sabaya was hit by bullets "many times."
The military refused to identify the second informant because he is still working for them.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Roy Cimatu said Ibrahim "was instrumental in giving timely information" that helped the elite Marine and Navy Special Warfare Amphibious Group commandos intercept Sabaya’s group in Mantibu Point off Sibuco town in Zamboanga del Norte.
The President lauded civilians supporting the government’s campaign to crush the Abu Sayyaf bandits who have been terrorizing southern Mindanao in a string of high-profile kidnappings since early 2000.
For over a year, Ibrahim had worked as a courier for Sabaya, 39, and eventually gained his trust. Ibrahim was later promoted as a member of his close-in security detail.
Unknown to the wily Sabaya, Ibrahim had been providing military agents key information on his movements.
his remarks at Malacañang, Cimatu said, "Madam President, there were actually nine people in the boat. Two were our informers and one of them is with us now." He did not identify the other informant, or intimate what had happened to him.
Cimatu said that on June 20, around 8 p.m., Ibrahim informed unidentified military handlers that Sabaya was arranging for a boat that will be used for their escape from Zamboanga del Norte.
When the group of Sabaya was monitored to have docked at the shore of barangay Parong-parong, Sibuco town, the military initiated Operation Black Archer to capture Sabaya and his men.
The operation involved intercepting Sabaya’s group who was on board the Kingfisher boat that Ibrahim helped secure, AFP spokesman Eduardo Purificacion said.
Cimatu said the military reported initially that there were only seven men on board the pumpboat, all of whom were Abu Sayyaf members.
Purificacion could not say whether Ibrahim joined the Abu Sayyaf under guidance of the military or was tapped to be an informant later.
When photographers tried to position themselves to get a better shot of Ibrahim, the stocky man was shielded by his military escorts. Ibrahim appeared to be between 35 to 40 years old.
Ibrahim "does not want to show his face," the President said.
Cimatu said they will study the possibility of placing Ibrahim and his family under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice.
He said he does not know yet what will he do with the reward, and deflected the question to reporters, "What will you do with that kind of money?"
In her remarks, the President said, "I think Abu Sabaya is dead and the Abu Sayyaf has been largely neutralized. Of course, the troops would have to continue to look for the four other leaders to make sure that the cancer does not grow again."
The STAR was told that Ibrahim was actually the owner of the pumpboat that Sabaya and his group used.
Cimatu said the Navy men involved in the June 21 operation were being evaluated for merit awards in terms of promotion and medals of valor.
Asked how soon they can get Janjalani and the others, Cimatu said that he has "very big confidence" in his soldiers and officers.
Cimatu rejected the reported feelers of Ghalib Andang to negotiate with the government for his surrender.
"There should be no condition, just surrender. Then, go to jail directly," he said.
He emphasized that they have not received such feelers. Commander Robot gained notoriety during the Sipadan kidnapping. - With Marichu Villanueva AFP reports
May 4, 2000, The Philippine Star, RP urged to ensure hostages' safety,
Germany, Finland, France, Malaysia and South Africa urged the Philippine government yesterday to ensure the safety of their citizens taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf extremist rebels.
They said no action that would endanger the hostages should be taken and have warned their citizens in the country to avoid travelling to Mindanao.
Ten of the 21 hostages have written letters to their embassies asking them to pressure the Philippine government to speed up negotiations and stop military operations.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon Jr. said yesterday the government has not closed the option of seeking the assistance of foreign governments to resolve the hostage crisis.
"We have always indicated that this is a Philippine government matter. However, since the hostages involved are foreigners, of course, we'll have to listen to inputs of their respective governments," he said.
But Siazon said the government would not allow foreign embassies to negotiate with the kidnappers for the release of their citizens since the crisis would degenerate into a "bazaar," meaning the kidnappers would entertain "the highest bidder."
May 5, 2000, The Philippine Star, Misuari threatens to quit as top negotiator, by berty Dones, Paolo Romero,
The government's chief negotiator in the Abu Sayyaf hostage crisis has threatened to quit unless the military stopped its offensive against the rebels holding 21 hostages, mostly foreigners.
Nur Misuari, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said he could not hold negotiations because of the fighting.
He warned that the rebels were better armed and more dangerous than the Abu Sayyaf unit that held 27 Filipino hostages, most of them children.
But Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said the military would not pull back as it had to ensure the safety of the hostages from the desperate gunmen.
"We only formed a ring and cordoned off the area (where the rebels are hiding) which is standard operating procedure," he said, adding that the military opened fire only when the militants tried to break the cordon.
The government appointed Misuari as chief negotiator, hoping that his background as a former rebel leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) would influence the Abu Sayyaf.
Last Wednesday, a certain Abu Asmad Salayudd, who identified himself as an Abu Sayyaf spokesman, told local radio that they would release all their hostages to Vice President Gloria Arroyo if the military stopped its siege.
May 5, 2000, The Philippine Star, Priest's family wants Sayyaf head captured, by Ding Cervantes,
CASTILLEJOS, Zambales - The family of a Catholic priest who was killed by the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf last Wednesday wants the group's leader captured "dead or alive."
Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, 34, and three other hostages were shot dead by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas as Army Scout Rangers were closing in on the terrorist group's hideout in the mountains of Basilan last Wednesday.
The military operation was able to rescue 15 hostages. Army troops are still searching for the other captives.
Gallardo's father Domingo, 61, said he would ask the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an autopsy on his son's body to determine the cause of death.
Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said Gallardo was hogtied and shot in the back of the head by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas who were fleeing the military onslaught.
Mercado sent his condolences to the Gallardo family through an interview over radio station dzMM.
The three other dead hostages - all teachers - were also shot at close range in the head, according to a priest who saw their bodies.
Rev. Martin Jumoad said several of them, including two women, had apparently been hacked on their bodies and arms.
Gallardo said his family has forgiven his son's killers and they are praying for their "enlightenment," but that the killing of innocent people should immediately stop.
"But what we want is for the government to capture dead or alive the leader of the Abu Sayyaf," he said.
Gallardo said the government was "partly to blame" for the death of his son because it failed to successfully negotiate for the hostages' safe release.
He said the rescue operation was "focused on the Abu Sayyaf" and that the protection of the hostages had not been given importance.
Gallardo said Fr. Rhoel had often written about the Abu Sayyaf's demand for "support in the form of taxes," and that he had always sent these letters to his bishop.
"He had always been aware of the dissidents in the hills surrounding his parish," he said. "The government had also been aware of the existence of the dissidents there and did not act early enough before the situation worsened."
Fr. Rhoel had been parish priest of Barangay Tumababong in Sumisip town, Basilan and director of the Claret School in the province for two years before he was kidnapped.
Gallardo and his family gathered at their house in Barangay Del Pilar here after learning about Fr. Rhoel's death from news reports.
"It was his (Fr. Rhoel's) choice to be a missionary priest and we had long resigned to God his fate,' he said.
Gallardo asked the government to airlift Fr. Rhoel's remains to Subic International Airport for transport to their house in this town.
Hundreds of townsfolk from all over the province are expected to welcome the body of Fr. Rhoel upon its arrival on Monday.
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Zambales called on provincial residents to pray for the successful rescue of the seven remaining hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday condemned the killing of Fr. Rhoel and the three other hostages.
Msgr. Hernando Coronel, CBCP director for media affairs, said the senseless act was perpetrated by terrorists whose nefarious activities have been denounced by peace-loving people, Muslims and Christians alike in Mindanao, and the rest of the country.
"It is an even greater tragedy that this despicable incident comes as a violently desperate move by the kidnappers in reaction to the armed assault on their camps by government troops who have been ordered to launch an all-out war against the rebel forces."
He said this turn of events was precisely what the bishops had warned could happen if militarization is pursued as the sole choice to solve the problem in Mindanao.
"Clearly militarization is not the answer," Coronel said. "Justice and peace can never come through violence. Now more than ever before, we urge all parties to return to the negotiating table to engage not in violent encounter but in dialogue, realizing that this is the only genuine path to peace."
Coronel said lives have already been lost in the senseless conflict that pits Filipinos against one another.
"In this moment of anguish, we pray that they have not been in vain-that these innocent people had given up their lives that we may learn the painful lesson that conflict is not resolved through violence."- With Bebot Sison Jr., Sandy Araneta, AP
May 6, 2000, The Philippine Star, It was hell out there, Sayyaf hostages say, by Roel Pareño,
ISABELA, Basilan -- "Vengeance," said the children.
Most children whom Army Scout Rangers had rescued after 44 days in captivity want to exact revenge against the terrorist band Abu Sayyaf.
"I hope the soldiers wipe them out because they are evil," 12-year-old Ma. Cristina Francisco said in Filipino.
She was sitting alone in a far corner of a hospital ward, nursing swollen feet caused by bruises sustained from walking barefoot in the jungles of Basilan.
"They (Abu Sayyaf terrorists) had no mercy," she said while biting her lips to restrain her anger. "They kicked us whenever we stopped walking."
Cristina had dreamed of becoming a teacher, but the hell she went through in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf has changed her mind and she now wants to become a soldier.
"I want to join the military when I grow up," she said in between tears.
Cherie Vergara, 14, who was wounded by shrapnel in the left arm, said the guerrillas' wives also showed no mercy to the captives whether young or old.
"They kept on kicking us," she said in Filipino. "The wife of Pah Imam ordered that we be beheaded because she said we have become a burden to them."
Sixteen-year-old Ricardo Gregorio said the guerrillas were only good in the beginning of the hostages' captivity and that they were actually evil men.
"Abu Sabaya (Abu Asmad Salayuddin, Abu Sayyaf spokesman) said that we will be beheaded once we reach Jolo," he said in Chavacano.
He said that he pretended to be interested to join the Abu Sayyaf to get the terrorists' sympathy and so he would not be killed in case they decided to push through with the decapitation of the hostages.
The children said they were given food only once a day after they were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf and taken to their hideout in the mountains of Basilan.
Gregorio said most of the relief goods intended for the captives were given by the guerrillas to their families, but that they were first made to taste the food to ensure that these were not poisoned.
"They even stripped Robin (Padilla) of his personal belongings," he said.
Gregorio said the terrorists also told them to say only good things about the Abu Sayyaf, especially to visiting journalists who were with the group of action star Robin Padilla.
Vergara, on the other hand, said the terrorists took the hostages' personal belongings like clothes and slippers and gave them to their families.
Gregorio said the clothes that the Red Cross had brought did not even reach the hostages because they were also given to the guerrillas' families.