At late afternoon that same day, the MILF fighters were convinced by the organization’s Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) to withdraw. The Marines pulled back to an abandoned madrasah.
The MILF later agreed to allow the Marines to recover their dead and rescue their wounded. But the Marines refused, saying that snipers were still firing at them. Still later, the MILF declared that only Basilan local government personnel and police could retrieve the bodies of the dead Marines.
The retrievers found 23 dead Marines all in all. Ten of the bodies were found to have been beheaded.
The AFP was quick to point to the MILF fighters as the perpetrators of the beheadings – an accusation the top MILF leadership vehemently denied.
On July 26, Principe issued warrants of arrest for at least 130 suspected MILF and ASG members allegedly involved in the Brgy. Guinanta encounter. The warrants include the names of at least five men confirmed to have been dead even before the July 10 encounter.
The inclusion of at least five dead men in the warrants of arrest could cast a shadow of doubt on the charges filed in connection with the July 10 encounter.
The plot thickens further when the identities of a few others who are included in the warrants are taken into consideration.
Also included in the warrants is Ustadz Salim Panawalon, the one-handed barangay captain of Guinanta, where the encounter and beheadings took place. Last Aug. 8, he filed a complaint before the AFP to protest his inclusion in the charge sheet. He is now reportedly in hiding.
Panawalon ran for Al-Barka mayor last May, but lost, according to Saliddin. “He was with the opposition,” Saliddin disclosed.
Panawalon lost in the Al-Barka mayoralty race to Kalam Jakilan, who ran under a slate led by former Basilan Gov. Wahab Akbar and his first wife Jum.
Wahab Akbar now represents Basilan’s lone district in Congress, while Jum is now governor. He and his wives Jum, Cherry, and Nur-in all ran under the Atienza wing of the Liberal Party – which, while not part of the administration coalition Team Unity in last May’s senatorial and local elections, supports President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Liberal Party split into two factions in 2005 following the outbreak of the so-called “Hello Garci” scandal.
The so-called “Hello Garci” tapes are a series of recorded and allegedly wiretapped conversations in which a voice similar to Arroyo’s is heard instructing an election official, whose voice sounds like that of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, to rig the polls. Their surfacing in mid-2005 renewed widespread suspicions of fraud in the 2004 presidential election and revived calls for the Arroyo’s removal or resignation from office.
The controversy generated by the “Hello Garci” scandal, among other things, led to infighting within the Liberal Party – with a group led by then Senate President Franklin Drilon aligning with the anti-Arroyo forces and another group, led by then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, choosing to support Arroyo.
“So there could be politics involved there,” said Saliddin – referring to Panawalon’s inclusion in the warrants of arrest.
It was Representative Akbar who, in a privileged speech on Aug. 2, identified four of the Marines’ beheaders as Umair Indama, Nurhasan Jamiri, Buhari Jamiri and Suaib Kalibon.
The Jamiri brothers are included in the warrants of arrest issued by Principe. Indama was killed in an encounter in Basilan earlier this month, while one of the Jamiri brothers has surrendered to the military.
The Basilan representative in his speech cited an eyewitness account from one of the wounded Marines whose hand was amputated because one of the beheaders was after his ring.
“The subject cannot get the ring because it was too tight so the subject ended in amputating the hand of the Marine,” Akbar said. “Bringing the hand of the Marine home, then cut his finger just to get the ring.”
The Basilan representative did not in his privileged speech explain why Indama, the Jamiri brothers, and Kalibon were being pointed to as among the perpetrators of the July 10 beheading. (Bulatlat.com)