Violence Rages: Chronology of Events
October 2011: Violence Rages
October 17 (Monday)- Fr. Fausto Tentorio
Fr. Fausto Tentorio of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) was shot fatally (10 times) as he was about to board his Suzuki vehicle at the Mother of Perpetual Help church compound in Arakan, North Cotabato by a lone assassin wearing a crash helmet and wielding a gun equipped with a silencer.
October 18 (Tuesday) – Al-Barka, Basilan Clash
Al Barka is a sixth class municipality in the island province of Basilan with a population of a little over 26,000 people (as of 2007).
On July 10, 2007, 23 Marines were killed in the area, with 14 of them beheaded.
On October 18, 19 more government troops belonging to an Army Special Forces battalion were slain in the town by many of the same men who were allegedly behind the 2007 killings.
Nine lawless elements were also killed during the encounter.
A single name surfaces in the 2007 and 2011 incidents — Dan Laksaw (Ustaz) Asnawi, whom the MILF has identified as the head of the 114th Base Command of its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces in Basilan.
He was tagged in the beheading of Marines in same town in 2007. He was later arrested, but escaped from the provincial jail in 2009.
On Tuesday, in a Special Forces operation aimed at the capture of Asnawi and 9 other men, he managed not only to escape again but inflict heavy casualties on government forces.
The October 2011 incident
On October 17, some 100 Special Forces soldiers were involved in an operation in Sitio Bakisong, Cambug Village, Al-Barka town against a small group of men led by Dan Laksaw (Ustaz) Asnawi and Abu Sayyaf members Nursahan Jamiri and Long Malat, according to Col. Carlito Galvez, Army chief operations divisions at the office of the deputy chief of staff.
Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesman, also said government troops “were operating based on the information of the presence of an armed group, possibly (holding) kidnap victims.”
It was not clear who fired the first shots but like in the 2007 incident, government troops suddenly found themselves outnumbered as MILF reinforcements came.
October 20 (Thursday) – Zamboanga Sibugay attacks
Seven soldiers and policemen were killed in two separate ambuscades. At least two explosions also rocked the province. The rebels ambushed two military convoys in Barangay Gulayon in Alicia town and carried out a separate attack against a joint military-police patrol in Simbol, Kabasalan town.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front owned up to the attack, saying it was a “sympathy initiative” to retaliate for the military shelling of their stronghold areas in Payao town, Zambonga Sibugay.
October 21 (Friday)
An improvised explosive device also went off inside an elementary school in the nearby town of Margosatubig, damaging two classrooms.
October 21 (Friday) PNoy presided over a command conference at the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Among those who attended the security conference were Executive Secretary Paquito Jr., presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, peace panel chairman Marvic Leonen, AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. and senior military officers.
Aquino was dissatisfied with the military’s performance citing the recent incidents like the attack by communist rebels against mining firms in Surigao del Norte and the MILF attack in Basilan that left 19 soldiers dead.
The President instructed the armed forces to review its organizational setup in critical areas like Jolo and Basilan to prevent similar incidents.
Aquino said he is not keen on pursuing an all-out war against the MILF and, instead, wants the continuation of peace talks.
He also sought for a deeper probe in the clash October 18 Al-Barka, Basilan clash.
Aquino already ordered the relief of Colonel Antonio Parlade Jr. as Army spokesman and Colonel Alex Macario as head of the Special Operations Task Force Basilan.
Parlade was reportedly relieved due to his statement pushing for the suspension of the ceasefire with the MILF on the heels of the deadly clash, while Macario was ordered replaced for allegedly committing “operational lapses”.
October 22 (Saturday)
About 80 to 120 suspected Moro rebels, apparently starving, ransacked stores and stole poultry and water buffaloes in remote Talusan town in Zamboanga Sibugay province Saturday then withdrew to an abandoned school in a mountainous outskirts of the town, said Army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc.
The rebels left the school before government troops arrived in the area, Cabunoc said.
Zamboanga Sibugay police chief Ruben Carriaga said the rebels may have staged the attacks in Talusan to divert the attention of military and police forces that have surrounded a separate group of 80 Moro rebels and outlaws in the nearby town of Payao.
Police wanted to arrest seven of the gunmen in Payao for various crimes, including kidnappings for ransom, but they resisted and have been sporadically clashing with government forces in recent days, Carriaga said.
October 23 – New attacks
Hassan Asnawi, a commander of the MILF’s 114th Base Command, led a 50-strong force that ambushed a truck owned by a rubber cooperative in Sumisip town, Basilan, leaving five civilians dead and eight others wounded.
Suspected Moro rebels also ambushed troops in Lanao del Norte’s Sultan Naga Dimaporo town, killing two soldiers and wounding four others.
42 – overall toll of lives in Mindanao in renewed violence last week at – 28 of them soldiers and policemen. The dead included 19 soldiers and 9 lawless elements killed in Basilan on Oct. 18 and seven on Oct. 21 in Zamboanga Sibugay.
(News reports from sunstar.com.ph/ abs-cbnnews.com/ inquirer.net/ philstar.com./ mb.com.ph)