Monday, November 19, 2007

Philippines: Quick end to investigation leads to frame-up speculation

This is from the Manila Tribune. There is a great distrust of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Police, and politicians in the Philippines. In fact of the three the politicians though widely distrusted are ranked third of the three in level of distrust in a poll published a couple of years ago.
Even though the National Police account seems at least to me an outsider perfectly reasonable--after all the Sayaff group have every reason to target the congressman--many people think the investigation was all a frame-up. The National police are just not trusted as independent investigators but are thought to frame the evidence to conclude what they want to conclude. Of course this mode of investigation may not just be confined to the Philippines!! They seem to have exported it to many other countries as well!!


Swift end to Batasan attack probe raises frame-up posit



11/18/2007

The unusually swift resolution of investigations into the bombing at the Batasan Complex, which was uncharacteristic of previous police investigations, had fed doubts that the capture of supposed Abu Sayyaf members was made up by the police to bolster the angle of a kill plot on Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar.

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., short of expressing doubts over the quick end to police investigations over the bombing incident that happened last Tuesday, called the raid on the suspected Abu Sayyaf lair in Payatas “spectacular.”

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Ka Roger Rosal, in a press statement sent to local dailies noted the “all-too-perfect coincidences” in the recovery of the deed of sale of the motorcycle used in the bombing, a number 8 vehicle plate reserved for vehicles of House of Representatives’ members and Congress staff T-shirts in the Payatas raid.

“According to the PNP (Philippine National Police) itself, the raid was carried out originally for an earlier unrelated case,” Rosal said.

Rosal said deep and widespread suspicions about the cover-up of the Arroyo regime’s hand behind the Glorietta mall blast carry over to similar suspicions of another cover-up of the Batasan bombing.

“There is widespread doubt that the ‘evidence’ was actually in the possession of the military and police and planted to mislead the public and hide the hand of the real bombers,” Rosal said.





“From the start, the PNP has been insisting that the Batasan bombing targeted only Congressman Wahab Akbar, one of four people killed, and was motivated by mere political rivalry or vengeance,” added Rosal.

“There now seems to be a dogged and concerted effort by Malacanang and Camp Aguinaldo to prove that the bombing targeted only Akbar in order to dismiss assertions that it was actually carried out to target some progressive members of Congress or was carried out with the general political aim of terrorizing the people,” he said.

The police, meanwhile, said the three suspected Abu Sayyaf members captured in the Payatas raid in Quezon City last Thursday were “very cooperative” and were providing investigators vital information on the deadly explosion at the Batasan Complex last Tuesday.

PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr said the information provided by the three supported a police theory that the attack targeted Akbar.

Akbar was one of four people killed in the blast at the Batasan complex in Quezon City last Tuesday that also injured 13, including Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Henry Teves.

Information were taken from them. They (the Abu Sayyaf suspects) have been very cooperative,” Razon said in a radio interview.

Razon said police investigators are now relating the statements from the suspects with the physical evidence gathered from the House of Representative’s south wing entrance where the explosion happened.

The three suspected Abu Sayyaf members, Khaidar Awnal, Ikram Indama and Adham Kusain, were supposedly captured last Thursday after a shootout. Three other alleged Abu Sayyaf members were killed in the incident.

Police said that Redwan Indama was a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and former municipal councilor of Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

Hataman also confirmed seeing Ikram Indama as driver of Salapuddin, a former commander of MNLF, during his stint as congressman of Basilan in the 13th Congress.

Ikram Indama’s identification card was recovered by the policemen during the raid. It stated that he was detailed with Salapuddin.

Aside from Ikram Indama, two other suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels, Khaidar Awnal and Adham Kusain, were also arrested.

In the same raid, Redwan Indama, his wife Saing, and Abu Jandal alias Bong were killed.

CPP’s Rosal said those killed and arrested were fallguys who used to work as government agents.

“People are highly suspicious that the police raid of a supposed Abu Sayyaf hide-out in Payatas, Quezon City was actually a setup, those killed and arrested mere scapegoats or actually fallguys who worked as agents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” Rosal said.

Ka Rosal’s view that the attack may have been directed against left-wing partylist House members were shared Ilagan, who is a representative for partylist Gabriela.

Razon said investigators have so far not gathered any evidence to bolster Ilagan’s claim that she was the target of the blast because she supported an impeachment complaint against President Gloria Arroyo.

“We have not found any evidence to support Ilagan’s assertion,” Razon said on radio.

Batasan complex security guards, meanwhile, identified two of three suspected Abu Sayyaf members, Indama and Kusain, as being in the area when the blast occurred. Indama was a former driver of former Basilan Rep. Gerry Salapuddin.

Salapuddin, former House deputy speaker for Mindanao, however, denied having a hand in the Batasan complex bombing.

He voluntarily appeared yesterday before the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to clear his name.

Salapuddin was dragged into the Batasan bombing investigations after his driver, along with two other suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf, was captured in Payatas.

Salapuddin admitted to knowing two of the three men who were captured, Ikram Indama and Adham Kusain. He, however, said that while Indama was his former driver, it does not mean that he has knowledge of their activities, the report said.

The former congressman also said that his driver has relatives who are Abu Sayyaf members who may have prodded Indama to commit to a plot against Akbar who allegedly founded the group.

Authorities earlier said that while investigators have established the link between Indama and Salapuddin, the former Basilan congressman has not been named a suspect in the explosion.

“I don’t deny that he (Ikram Indama) worked for me as a driver. But after my term, I don’t know what happened to him,” Salapuddin said.

Salapuddin lost to Basilan Governor Jum Akbar, one of the four widows of the late Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar.

Despite their political difference, Salapuddin said a grieving person’s normal instinct is to suspect a political rival as the killer. But my electoral protest was not against Wahab Akbar. My protest was against his wife.

Razon said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is now considering to persuade one of those arrested to become a state witness.

De Venecia said the reward money put up by President Gloria Arroyo and members of the House have led to the spectacular breakthrough in the Batasan bombing investigation of the police.

During a breakfast meeting at MalacaƱang Friday, de Venecia thanked the President for putting up P5 million in reward money, as police sifting through the debris found clues that may have established a link to three Abu Sayyaf suspects shot dead by police operatives.

Quezon City second district Representative Annie Susano offered another P2 million and House members, following a resolution filed by Manila Representative Benny Abante, contributed a total of P1.2 million for the early resolution of the attack that police theorized could have been meant for Akbar.

President Arroyo, meanwhile, ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strictly enforce existing laws on the possession of explosives following the Batasan complex blast.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the President also called for an end to speculations on who the mastermind was and the motives behind the attack, adding that the public should wait for the PNP to issue its final report.

Bunye said Arroyo has commended the Armed Forces and the PNP for the raid in Payatas, which resulted in the death of three alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf and the seizure of equipment similar to those used in the Batasan bombing.

The President said the raid “provided a significant breakthrough in the Batasan blast investigation.”

Islamic leaders, meanwhile, are protesting insinuations implicating some Muslim personalities in the Nov. 13 bombing of the House of Representatives.

“Find first evidence supporting this claim before implicating such persons,” Philippine Muslim Council for Islam and Democracy (PMCID) lead convenor and ex-senator Amina Rasul said at the Kapihan sa Sulo forum.

She and PMCID co-convenor Nasser Marohomsalic made the call after former Mindanao Deputy Speaker Gerry Salappudin of Basilan province and Anak Mindanao partylist representative Mujiv Hataman were linked to the blast.

Rasul is concerned about such development as she noted there were leaks to media implicating both even if probe on this matter isn’t over yet.

“Normally, you don’t yet release such information especially if it’s politically sensitive,” she stressed.

Authorities are focusing on the theory Akhbar could have been the blast’s target allegedly for helping government’s anti-insurgency drive in Basilan where the rebel Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) he was once linked to operated.

Rasul said authorities must pursue other possible leads as well, however.

“They should perhaps study if a different group wants Akhbar out of the picture and if others were the blast’s real targets,” she said.

She also said authorities must look into whether the explosion was meant instead to trigger widespread fear among people.

Talks surfaced about Salappudin’s possible involvement after authorities said a witness identified Ikram Indama, an alleged ASG member who once worked for this solon, as among two motorcycle-riding persons who entered the Batasan Pambansa compound just hours before explosion hit the House’s south wing entrance.

Rasul said linking Salappudin to the blast defies logic because he will unlikely tarnish his reputation by helping mastermind such carnage, however.

“Why will someone of his stature be involved in this dastardly act perpetrated in a public place within the institution he once belonged to?” she asked.

Marohomsalic also expressed dismay Hataman’s name is being dragged into the controversy.

“I know him personally,” Marohomsalic said. “He’s ideological and neither a terrorist nor an anarchist. I don’t think he placed his fellow in danger. He knows he needs them. It’s out of character for Muslim leaders like him to do so.”

Marohomsalic also dismissed talks linking the blast to alleged political bickerings in Basilan, province of Salappudin and Akhbar.

“Basilan is the least prone to political violence and has no history of such,” he said.

He likewise pointed out it is unlikely for Salappudin and Akhbar to engage in violence since both belong to the Yakan tribe which is among Mindanao’s most peaceful groups.

Linking Muslims to violence merely because there’s strife in Mindanao is wrong, he continued.

To help promote a more thorough probe of the blast, Marohomsalic said an independent commission must be formed to undertake the work.

He said multi-sector representatives and multi-denominational religious leaders must comprise this commission since it’s unlikely they’ll allow a whitewashed probe. Tribune wires

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