Only 8 of 21 jailed ‘Abu’ linked to 2002 kidnap-murders – witnesses

Purple S. Romero
DOJ re-investigating case after claims of wrongful arrests

HE DID IT. A witness in the alleged kidnapping of 6 members of Jehovah's witnesses identify one of the alleged abductors.

MANILA, Philippines – Only 8 of the 21 alleged Abu Sayyaf Group members being held for the 2002 kidnapping-with-murder case in Patikul, Sulu, were involved in the crime, according to witnesses.

In a hearing at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, December 3, the 3 witnesses — one of whom is the wife of a hostage who was beheaded — identified the 8 from among the suspects, some of whom have been detained since 2003 and some for only several months.

The DOJ is re-investigating the case following complaints from the accused that they were wrongly arrested.

Judge Toribio Ilao Jr. of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 266 ordered the reinvestigation. Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong said they conducted the hearing in order to ascertain who are those behind the kidnapping, since the list of the accused keeps getting longer, with over a hundred implicated. 

A decade ago, 6 members of the Jehovah’s Witness sect were abducted by alleged ASG members; two of the hostages were beheaded.

The arrest of those involved in the incident carries a reward of up to P3 million.

The 8 who were identified by the witnesses were: Jumlie Orie Manuri, Jul Ahmad Julman, Arabi Muin Ladja, Sonny Boy Baharim Y Baki, Abdulwahab Hamja y Asta, Mujibar Alih Amon, Julhasan Ybanez, Absar Mangkabong Asim. All denied that involvement in the crime.

The wife of one of those killed said Mujibar tried to force her to marry one of the abductors, but the latter said this is a lie, as “none of us will have her as our type.”

Another accused — Manuri — denied being one of the abductors. He said he was a barangay captain at the time and was even planning to run for vice mayor when he was arrested in July 2012 in Basilan. 

Ybanez, who was identified by the victim as one of those present when her husband was beheaded, said he was an imam in the Western Mindanao Command and claims to know now retired Westmincom commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino.

The panel will come up with a resolution by December. –

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