Monday, March 21, 2011

Abu Sayyaf Interdiction for the First Quarter of 2011

New Year ushered in a new era for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). 2011 was to be a year of new beginnings for a military usually perceived as little more than a spoiled lap dog. Taken up with CMO (Civil Military Operations) and eschewing its de rigeur fly on the cuff tactical operations that merely served to reinforce Mindanao's lawless environment some thought this "new" AFP would produce tangible results early on. Few realised that it was just a bait and switch scam. For every PDT (Peace and Development Team) deployed in Davao Region or ComVal (Compostela Valley Province, abutting Davao Region to the north) there were 5 colossal screw ups in areas just as critical, if not more so. Take for example, the concerted push on Basilan.

A series of mid-level arrests on outstanding warrants and meaningless bush scours (searching an outlying sector meter by meter) gave one the impression that a lot was being accomplished vis a vis the fight against ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group). For example:

On January 18, 2011, Najer"Appih"Ibrahim Sappayani was arrested in a joint AFP/PNP (Philippine National Police) operation in Barangay Limpapa in Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Norte Province. Sappayani was taken on a Warrant issued by Judge Erlinda Pinera of Manila's RTC (Regional Trial Court) #162, on 21 charges of Kidnapping for his role in the infamous ASG raid on Sipadan Island in Malaysia's Sabah State (on Borneo). Sipadan is a 10 minute boat ride from the southernmost Philippine province, Tawi Tawi. Sipadan, home to a world famous dive resort is forever associated with ASG owing to the nature of that attack.

Readers may recall that this was the ASG attack that catapaulted the group to the forefront of the international media since most of the 21 hostages were Europeans and South Africans. This was also the attack that netted the group so much money, courtesy of beleaguered Libyan dictator Khadaffi, that the US Dollar was dead in the water for 3 months in Sulu and Tawi Tawi. Sappayani is now being held in Manila.

On February 08, 2011, in Barangay Lower Sinangkapan in the town of Tuburan on Basilan Island, a sub-Kumander in the Jamiri Faction, Suhud Tanadjalin was stalked by an element from the 32IB. As the guerilla made ready to perform Salat (Islamic Prayer) the AFP set a cross fire ambush. When Tanadjalin laid his M16 on the ground next to him the AFP opened fire killing him. On March 23 forensics confirmed the identity, laying to rest yet another wanted ASG member (are there any UNwanted members?). The American State Department had set a 70,000 US Bounty on him for his involvement in the "Dos Palmas Kidnapping." No other guerillas were taken during the ambush and subsequent fire fight which lasted several minutes before ASG withdrew into the bush.

On March 17, 2011 the person who provided the 32IB with the information that led to Tanadjalin's death received their 70,000 US (3 Million Pesos and change) at the 32 IB Headquarters with little fanfare. Usually its a propagandist's dream, as if the recipient had just won a lottery, which in a manner of speaking is exactly what happens (though almost all the money is given right back to the Philippine military officers who hire the frontmen to pose as "tipsters").

Of course, having stalked and flanked the ASG position so well as to have lain a successful ambush, the 32-! Could have simply enveloped the ASG position entirely instead of leaving the guerillas a clear line of retreat. Alternatively they might have set a Blocking Force down that avenue of escape. I suppose though that the American Bounty -and lack there of in relation to the other guerillas on site- simply meant that it wasn't worth the effort for the AFP.

February 09, 2011 on Villalobos Street, Barangay Zone #4, Zamboanga City, a joint AFP/PNP operation arrested ASG member Abu Walid (only known by that nom de guerre) on Warrants for Kidnapping and Illegal Detention for the "Lamitan Siege" and "Golden Harvest Abductions/Killings." I discuss "Lamitan Siege" a bit further on in this entry but the latter case, "Golden Harvest" is an incident that took place just after ASG withdrew from Lamitan following the "Siege." Coming across a plantation with Cebuano (non-Muslim) employees ASG grabbed some more histagesn some of whom were decapitated. The main Warrant against Walid is dated January 28, 2008, out of RTC #1, Judge Leo Jay Principe and the 2nd is dated September 04, 2002 from Judge Danilo Bucoy of RYC #2.

March 01, 2011 saw an arrest in the ASG ambush on Jolo Island that killed Sulu Provincial Police Chief Supt.Julasirim Kasim and several colleagues. Amil"Arabi"Sa'id was nabbed while walking on Datu Halun Street in Bongao, the provincial capitol of Tawi Tawi. Sa'id was also wanted for attacks on Camp Bautista, the Marine Headquarters on Jolo Island as well as the usual, run of the mill ASG depredations. You know, boring stuff like raping and pillaging, KFR (Kidnap for Ransom) and other such trivialities.

Interestingly his 20 year old Clansman, Sali Sa'id was nabbed the same day on Chinese Wharf in Jolo City, the provincial capitol of Sulu, on Jolo Island. This "Sa'id" is a member of the Jamiri Jawhari Faction, the so called "ASG Urban Terror" element, which like tha analogous MILF SOG (Special Operations Group) is largely the invention of the AFP's lackluster PSOPS (Psychological Operations,aka "propaganda") minions. His membership in ASG however is anything but imaginary. He is known to have had a hand in the "Ces Drillon" KFR, the burning of an abandoned elementary school in Sitio Tu'up, Barangay Ta'ung in the municipality of Patikul on Jolo Island. He is also tagged as having taken part in armed engagements against the Marines' 3rd Brigade, in particularly a lengthly fire fight that took place on December 09, 2009 before he had turned 18.

On March 13, 2011 the home of ex-Mayor of Lamitan City, Hadjarun Jamiri was raided
on a Warrant related to the 2007 bombing that killed Congressman Wahab Akbar (chronicled in entry,"Portrait of a Warlord:Wahab Akbar") at the Batasan Complex (Congressional Building). The powerful bomb on November 13, 2007 killed Akbar and 3 others. The raid, a joint operation conducted by PNP SAF (PNP Special Action Force, the Special Ops element of the PNP) and CIDG-ARMM (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of ARMM, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, CIDG being a PNP element as well) failed to nab Jamiri, a high ranking ASG member, but did capture a second wanted figure, Nawaf Jainuddin. Also captured were 2 shotguns and 1 fragmentation grenade. Ironically ex-Mayor Jamiri is wanted on a Warrant for the "Siege of Lamitan." The act took place in June of 2001 as ASG had just arrived back on Basilan after undertaking the famous "Dos Palmas Kidnapping." Dos Palmas, outside of Puerto Princessa, the provincial capitol of Palawan Island was an exclusive resort frequented by foreign tourists. Khadaffy Janjalani and his second in command, Abu Subaya rounded up a gaggle of vacationers including 3 Americans, Guillermo Sobrero and the Burnhams, a missionary couple who had lived in the Philippines for well over a decade. Landing on Basilan they were pursued by the AFP and ended up entering Lamitan and occupying Dr.Torres Memorial Hospital.

It was during that occupation that high ranking AFP officers, the late Congressman Akbar and then Mayor Jamiri conspired to allow ASG AND HOSTAGES a clear route of escape in exchange for a hefty share of the predicted ransom, the largesse of Sipadan in the forefront if everyone's mind.

On January 31, 2011 another ASG member slash "ex-Mayor" formally protested the raid on HIS home. Joel Maturan, the former mayor of Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan wrote an official letter to Vice President Jejomar Binay to express his outrage over the December 31, 2010 raid of his residential compound. The compound, in Sitio Block #41, Barangay Bohe Pahu in Ungkaya Pukan was because of intelligence that had the site as an IED (Improvised Explosive Device,aka"Bomb") manufacturing site. 2 platoons from the 32IB backed local PNP. He said the force, under overall command of 32IB's Capt.Edward Cervantes came without a Warrant and left empty handed. He also took time to deny his membership in ASG.

March 14, 2014 saw an RSM member arrested, an unusual occurrence seeing as how the organisation is now defunct and virtually all members are either dead or in prison for life. RSM, or the Rajah Solaiman Movement, was made up of "Balik Islam," people born non-Muslim who converted as adults. Founded on Luzon, in Metro Manila it eventually opened up 2 training camps in the central portion of the island set about commiting grandiose acts of terrorism. The group's ledership travelled to Mindanao and intermarried with families of ASG-Basilan, including Khadaffy Janjalani the group's over all leader until his death.

Often times RSM and ASG are used interchangably when discussing particular acts, duch as the "Superferry Bombing" in Manila Bay, or the "Davao Airport Bombing." These were entirely the work of RSM though there have certainly been co-operative operations such as the "Valentines Bombings" across Mindanao. Indeed, the arrestee, Ricardo Perez Ayeras was taken on a Warrant for that 2003 "Davao Airport Bombing."

On other front, several provinces including Basilan have finally decided to do the intelligent thing and transfer high-risk inmates, such as ASG members to more secure facilities. Since this is the Philippines they can only be found in the Metro Manila area though all things considered there have been almost as many jail breaks from those "more secure" facilities as there has been from the antiquated prisons found in the south. That is bound to happen of course given the endemic corruption juxtaposed the grinding poverty afflicting all corners of the nation.

The first group transferred out of Basilan included ASG members Bensar"Ajid Jalil"Indama and Jhon Buhari Jamiri who were merely shipped across the strait to Zamboanga City to be housed in that municipality's Reformatory as arrangements are made for their trip north. The 2 are being held on Warrants for the kidnapping of 3 public school teachers in 2009. The teachers were on a small inter-island ferry when overtaken by ASG in speedboats (or "fast boats" as they are known locally). The transfers came about by a petition to the Supreme Court and these 2 particular prisoners were ordered transferred by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.

Bensar Indama, brother of factional leader Puruji Indama is a key figure in ASG's pre-Election assault in Basilan's capitol, Isabela City. The April 13, 2010 attack killed 14 and wounded 13. He was captured during a series of running fire fights as ASG was withdrawing from the city. In that case he has pled"Not Guilty" to 12 counts of Murder, Multiple Murder, Multiple Frustrated Murder and Multiple Damage to Property. The arraignment in front of the infamous Judge Leo Jay Principe saw Isabela City swarming with AFP armoured units, two V150 APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers) stood in front of the court's main entrance.

As if on cue, another spectacular jail break has hit the island. On February 21, 2011 at the Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Jail in Pagadian City's Barangay San Jose 8 inmates decided to make a break for it, and this being Mindanao, most were successful. That day, at 1PM, PNP officers (the Philippines uses police officers to guard inmates, there are no "corrections officers") PO1 Francis Bertulfo and PO1 Noel Tadlas were talking with a civilian when they were surrounded by the 8 prisoners in question:

1) Canaruddin Subu of Margosatubig, Zamboanga del Sur, held on a Warrant for Murder

2) Roger Mesa Canete, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur being held on a Warrant for Multiple Murder and Multiple Frustrated Murder

3) Joemar"Saddam"Damandus Tanis, Midsaylip, Zamboanga del Sur being held on Warrant for Murder

4) Tukan"Salik"Pagayo Guinale, Barangay Lower Campo Islam, Labagan, Zamboanga del Sur on 2 Warrants, each for Murder

5) Alex Abas Pacho, Purok Pagaypay, Barangay Kawit, Pagadian City on a Warrant for a sexual offence

6) Ronaldo Penonio Llanes, Barangay Poblacion, San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur on a Warrant for Robbery with Violence and a Warrant for Intimidation

7) Badrudin Dimalunda, Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur on a Warrant for Carnapping (Auto Theft)

8) Rodrigo"Digoy"Alaya'a Daligdig, address unknown but being held on a Warrant for murder

Two days prior, February 19, Guinale's girlfriend, Narissa Balatukal had smuggled in a loaded 38 caliber revolver to Guinale on 1 of her numerous visits. In fact, on the day in question she was again visiting and had just left before the inmates put their plan into action. Having surrounded the two afore mentioned police officers Guinale pulled his 38 while Daligdig (#8) lunged for the M14 Tadlas was carrying. PO1 Bertulfo quickly drew down with his shotgun and killed Daligdig. As this took place the other 7 swarmed the officers. When the dust settled PO1 Bertulfo was dead in addition to inmate Daligdig. PO1 Tadlas and the civilian were both critically wounded and the 7 inmates had cleared the simple chainlink fence "securing" the facility.

Running to an unoccupied triksiad (most common form of public transport in the Philippines, made from a motorcycle dirtbike encapsulated in aluminum with benches for passengers) whose driver was ordered to leave post haste. After clearing the property and just before the intersection of North Diversion Road and PADAP the escapees comandeered a Honda Civic at gunpoint and sped off into Barangay Dao. From Dao they entered Barangay Santa Maria and turned into Bayview Heights Subdivision. Inside Bayview Heights they tried to commandeer a Toyota Forerunner but its driver quickly sped off. Rather than continuing in the Civic they took off on foot and it was there, at 520PM that the Provincial PNP (PPO Region#9) cornered the 7 desperate men. Not waiting for reinforcements PO2 Charles Arapoc Bajolo and PO2 Richard Tambiga Carreon began advancing on the men. Though the police managed to shoot 2 inmates to death (Pacho,#6 and Llanes,#7) the escapees were able to kill PO2 Bajolo and critically wound Carreon.

After the last gunfight the group split up so that the next day, February 23 the mastermind of the escape, Damandus (#4) was taken alive in Sitio Quibranza, Barangay Kahayagan, Bayog in that same province, Zamboanga del Sur. The remaining * remain free.

March 01, 2011 saw TF Basilan's CO, Brigadier General Nicanor Dolojan leaving the Command to simply concentrate on his old post as Deputy CO of SOCOM (Special Operations Command) at Fort Magsaysay on Luzon, a position he held concurrently to his TF Command. Dolojan's tenure was the first since the Task Force adopted the SOCOM formula after laying the Whole Fleet doctrine to rest. Replacing him on Basilan will be replaced by Col.Alexander Macario who here to fore had been the TF's Deputy CO. Dolojan assumed the Command in November, 2010 and has had a decent track record though Macario has quickly laid rest to those laudable accomplishments. Dolojan is making this move as part of a major re-positioning ahead of AFP Chief of Staff Ricardo David's impending retirement. This opens up Dolojan for a decent promotion.

In the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Borneo Island just south of the Mindanowan island province of Tawi Tawi yet another one of the claimants to the Sultunate of Sulu is being accused of deep connections to ASG. Datu Mohd Akjan Datu Ali Mohammad is a resident of Sabah is now pegged as a member of ASG by Malaysia's Secretary of DAP, Dr.Edwin Bosi. Bosi claims that the qould be Sultan's offer of mediation during the "Sipadan Kidnapping" in 2000 is "proof" and should warrant an investigation. Dr.Bosi however did not bother to explain why it has taken him a decade to $ake this point. Perhaps it may just be related to Under Secretary for Rural Development, Chief Sairin Kamo who recently discussed the offer of mediation (once again) in a tabloid interview. Glad to see that the Malaysian Bureaucracy is just as full of petty minded individuals who waste time manufacturing political vendettas as opposed to simply serving their constituencies as they are paid to do. For a brief milisecond I had begun to think that sych mental midgets could only be found in the Philippines. Hmmm, maybe another Pogi Point for the Pan-Malayanists. Speaking of which, since I AM after all engaged in a truncated stream of consciousness here, yet another anniversary of the "Jabidah Massacre" has come and gone. Since I did a lengthly series of entries on that seminal event I will leave it at that. The entries by the way are entitled, "The Goog, the Bad and the Ugly" or can be found under the tags "Jabidah" or "Operation Merdeka."

I will explain in my next entry why these numerous arrests are misleading.

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