Monday, June 6, 2011

Kidnap for Ransom,Second Quarter of 2011,Part VII:Virgilio Fernandez,Amirogong and Aisha Tomara

Ahhhh,spring is in the blooming,birds singing...and of course Filipinos kidnapping,practicing the nation's favourite sport:MISERY,in all its myriad forms.The Third Quarter has begun with 2 publicised cases,remembering that the general rule of thumb being that for ever publicised case there are 5 others going unreported.Some eventually gain publicity but most never do regardless of the outcome.

One of the ridiculous ideas that have developed over the last half a decade has been the"Circumfrential Road"development projects.Lake Bualan,Lake Lanao,Jolo Island in Sulu Provvince and the island province of Basilan have each had their perimeters outlined an extremely expensive boondoggles that serve no real purpose other than enriching the pockets of key politicians and whichever one of their family members are lucky enough to have been chosen to create shell condtruction companies whose sole raison d'etre is to construct these meaningless paved roads.While so called farm-to-market roads DO help outlying agricultural communities the building of a road to ring a huge under-developed lake or island is a ridiculous waste of the Filipino taxpayer's money.If there is no industrial base and absolutely no tourism industry why in the world would Basilan or Jolo Island need a nicely paved hiway to ring its entire girth?

The usual answer from the hip would be to enable the LGU (Local Government Unit) to deliver basic goods and services and to better enable development of these poorly served municipalities.However,no invvestor in their right mind is going to sink money into an insurgency wracked shi*hole like Basilan.The island has considerable natural resources,iron (from which Basilan derived its name),timber,rubber,pineapples and of course aquacultural endeavours like shellfish,pearls and seaweed.However the province only holds 7 municipalities and that includes 2 created within the last 4 years.You need to have a reason to connect these towns before bothering to connect them.

So it goes then that Cebu-based Mace Construction has spent the better part of the last year constructing and paving a single stretch of this sad and forlorn porkbarrel project.Unfortunately for Mace personnel that stretch happens to connect the municipalitiy of Mohammad Ajul with Lamitan City,the island's second largest municipality.Mohammad Ajul is one of those two new municipalities I had mentioned in my previous paragraph.Created out of the town of Tuburan Ajul's single industry is KFR,or Kidnap for Ransom.I wish that I could tell you that this degenerate claim can only be made of Mohammad Ajul but the sad fact of the matter is that 3 of the island's 7 towns subsist on this parasitic garbage,with the other 2 being:

1) Sumisip

2) Al Barka [sic].

At 3PM on Friday,June 3rd,2011 Project Engineer Virgilio Fernandez finished another wasted day's work and climbed into the cab of a mini-dump truck driven by fellow employee Basir Dasta.After a gaggle of labourers climbed into the truck's bed the group left Mohammad Ajul's Barangay Buton for the slow drive back to the company's base of operations in Lamitan City.For the past 14 months Mr.Fernandez had been renting a home in that city's Barangay Maganda along with most of his co-workers.Although security had been heavy as the project commenced personnel began acclimating to the island and so they slipped into regular,predictable routines.

As the truck entered the Lamitan City limits,in Barangay Bulanting's Sitio Libi,4 well armed men riding tandem on 2 motorcycles pulled their bikes nose to nose,blocking the width of the road.Seeing that the truck had no intention of stopping at that impromptu roadblock one of the four men pulled an M16 off of his back and shot out the truck's front left tire.Now having no choice in the matter Basir Dasta tried to control the truck as it slid down the unpaved road.2 of the gunmen rushed to the truck's passenger side door and dragged a startled Mr.Fernandez out and onto the ground.Roughly pushing him they managed to secure Fernandez onto the rear of 1 of the idling motorcycles as a gunman got on the rear,sandwiching his shocked captive between himself and the driver.

Very quickly the 2 motorcycles sped off taking Fernandez with them into Barangay Cadayyan,in the town of Akbar.As soon as the kidnappers had left Dasta drove off,heading directly to the Lamitan CPO (City Police Office).Not suprisingly the Lamitan PNP (Philippine National Police) were already apprised of the situation,as well they should be since most Basilan municipal PNP personnel directly profit off of the trade.In the PNP's defence the Lamitan CPO is in no way unique.The same situation can be found in Marawi City,Cotabato City,parts of Zamboanga City,and in towns like Kabuntalan in Maguindanao Province.This is one of (wo primary reasons why a captive's family will never go near the PNP when a loved one is kidnapped.The other reason of course is that the PNP is extremely poorly trained and is much more likely to maim or kill a vctim than to effect his or her rescue.At the CPO.Mr.Dasta and all his passengers quickly identified 2 of the gunmen from poster hanging fortuitously upon the wall.Both identified men are Abu Sayyaf gueriilas (no suprise there) and are also clan members of Abu Sayyaf factional leader Nurhassan Jamiri.Musana and Muhmin"Boy"Jamiri are known to reside with an ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) encampment in Sitio Penguew in the aformentioned barangay of Cadayyan in the municipality of Akbar.

Although the Jamiri Faction has dabbled in KFR it is usually the other leading ASG faction on Basilan,that of Puruji Indama,that focuses its energies on the trade.Jamiri's invvolvement may signal an upswing in Basileno and Zamboangan KFR as well as factional strife on Basilan.

That same day,Friday June 3rd,2011 in Marawi City,Lanao del Sur Province,Amirogong Tomara Jr.49,and his wife Aisha Kamid Tomara,45,of that city's Sitio Mapandi,Barangay Lilod Saduc decided to treat themselves to a take away lunch.Mr.Tomara,the COMELEC (Commission on Elections,the Philippine Electoral Authority) Commissioner for the municipality of Tuburan in that same province of Lanao del Sur (not to be confused with the municipality of the same name mentioned in reference to Basilan Province earlier in this entry) decided on a small cafe just a stone's throw from City Hall in Barangay Bangon.

Walking inside Mr.Tomara paid precious little attention to 2 young men who followed close behind.As he and his wife stood looking at the menu the two men pulled out 45 caliber pistols,each pointed at one of the victim's heads and in front of startled customers ordered the 2 to leave the building quickly.Outside the gunmen rapidly bundled the shocked couple into a waiting minivan and off the couple went,becoming just 2 more statistics in an over-burdened nation.

The couple's daughter,26 year old Norjaine Kamid Tomara,noted that shortly before the kidnapping her father's ex-wife (like many Filipino Muslims Mr.Tomara has been polygamous) had demanded a new house,new vehicle AND P1M (roughly US22,000).Mr.Tomara had denied her request and the woman reportedly then threatened to harm him.Interestingly noone is discussing the obvious angle;Lanao del Sur Province is one of five provinces comprising the ARMM,or Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.Despite the best efforts of President Aquino to delay it the ARMM Elections are scheduled to take place this August,2011.The filing of COCs (Certificates of Candidacy) just finished and so we are in the midst of yet another bloody electoral season.In the 2010 Elections (National/Local,but not ARMM) a COMELEC Commissioner's son was kidnapped and held in order to try and have his father invalidate the electoral tallies in one Lanao del Sur municipality.

Originally taken to the town of Manai the captors soon moved the couple to the KFR group's main encampment in the municipality of Balindong.On Sunday,June 5th,while conducting Search and Rescue Operations in Balindong's Barangay Gacap in that same province,the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) encountered 12 members of the KFR organisation in question and a fierce firefight ensued.Though no casualties were incurred by either side the incident does not bode well since it indicates that the AFP is once again thrashing about like a proverbial bull in the china shoppe.

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