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PIA Press Release

Gov’t seeks MILF help to nab alleged bombing brains

Quezon City (16 October) -- ON instructions of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the military has asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the arrest of one of its commanders who is being linked to last week’s bombings in central Mindanao.

Marine Brigadier General Mohammad Ben Dolorfino, chairman of the government panel in the Ad-hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), said he has communicated with his counterpart in the MILF asking that that they "jointly work for the interdiction" of Abdul Basit Usman.

"I have provided the MILF-AHJAG with a picture of the principal suspect," Dolorfino, concurrent chief of the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), told Camp Aguinaldo reporters.

Dolorfino claimed Usman had been expelled from the MILF after he was charged for the 2003 Davao City bombings.

But Kabalu claimed the MILF commander linked to the attacks was a certain Abu Hashim, not Usman.

Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., for his part, refused to blame the MILF for the bombings.

"We have to have conclusive evidence that would point to the MILF working closely with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf group," Esperon said.

Esperon added that the military supports peace talks between the government and the MILF, which bogged down recently after both parties failed to agree on the issue of ancestral domain.

The military chief also admitted that it is "hard" for security forces to be "guarding all corners" of the country in the wake of a fourth bomb blast to rock the southern Philippines in less than a week.

Saying the fight against terrorism is a "national effort," Esperon likewise appealed to the public to tip off security forces about the movements and whereabouts of terror suspects.

"This [security] is not the job of the military or the police alone…Civilians, because they are stakeholders themselves, should provide information. They can see every corner, they should be alert and vigilant," he said. (PIA) [top]

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