Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 38 October 26 - November 1, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Peace Group Digs into Davao Bombings
mutiny leaders clam up before the Maniwang Commission, the burden of unearthing
the truth falls on the independent probe being conducted by a Mindanao-based
Maniwang Commission was created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to probe
the July 27 Oakwood mutiny leaders’ allegations that the Davao bombings early
this year were masterminded by former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and former
armed forces Intelligence chief Victor Corpuz. It held its second hearing at the
justice department in Manila last Oct. 21, a few days after the Feliciano
Commission said that the young officers’ statements can be used in the cases
that would be filed against them in court.
the Initiatives for Peace (InPeace) in Mindanao, a multi-sectoral, inter-faith
group based in Davao City, has also conducted two public hearings – one in
Cagayan de Oro City and one in Davao City – as part of its Independent Fact
Finding Mission seeking the truth behind the series of bombings in Mindanao. Its
investigation began even before the mutineers would expose the mysterious Davao
started its investigation as early as May 2003 after several bombings hit parts
of Mindanao and affected civilian communities.
“We had to act as early because nobody, not even the government, was
taking the bombings seriously,” said Robinson Montalba, Ph. D., convenor of
investigative body, however, fears that as the investigation goes on, more
bombings will rock Mindanao. This
was after the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Coorperation (APEC) announced
Oct. 21 that they will take necessary actions to dismantle all terrorist groups
in the Philippines and worldwide.
announcement is alarming to us as we will once again be the targets of military
operations,” said Montalba.
underscored the role of the U.S. in this glaring threat to peace in Mindanao.
“Reports that the U.S. military is helping the local security forces
track down Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is only a basis to justify the intervention of
the Pentagon into Philippine affairs,” he said.
a press conference on Oct. 22 in Quezon City, InPeace claimed that this
announcement sounds “familiar” and “traumatic for the people of Mindanao
especially to the Bangsamoro communities.”
Moro-Christian Peoples Alliance (MCPA) noted that members of the Bangsamoro
community are being used as scapegoats by the Macapagal-Arroyo government.
is unjust and unfair,” said Cosain Naga, Jr., spokesperson of MCPA.
“After losing our homes, our livelihood and our kin in the bombings, we
are tagged as the bombers. The
tragedy in our midst seems endless.”
the release of 14 Muslim detainees who were arrested in the AFP crackdown in
Basilan in July 2001, Naga said the Moro people have no reason to rejoice as
more that 100 of their Muslim brothers remain in prison.
release of our innocent brothers after two years of unjust incarceration proves
our claim that they are just fall guys,” said Naga.
mutineers as resource persons
leaders of the failed July 27 mutiny have agreed to become resource persons in
the InPeace investigation. Represented
by their lawyer Ruel Pulido, the mutineers submitted their affidavits on the two
hearings of the InPeace-IFFM in Cagayan de Oro and Davao City.
convenors said the young officers have given vital information about the hand of
the military in the bombings in Mindanao.
the Oct. 22 press conference, Pulido expressed his clients’ belief that the
InPeace-IFFM will present an impartial report.
the other hand, they expressed apprehensions over the Maniwang Commission.
the Maniwang Commission’s first hearing last Oct. 21, the mutineers invoked
their “right to remain silent” as, they said, they have already stated their
concerns in their joint affidavit.
said, “They (members of the Maniwang Commission) are the ones tasked to prove
or disprove the involvement of the AFP leaders in the Mindanao bombings.
They should not give that burden to my clients by asking questions which
they have answered for the nth time.”
added that the government commission was merely fishing for statements that
would be self-incriminating to his clients.
not mercy – this was the battle cry of the July 27 Committee (Kapamilya,
Kamag-anak, at Kaibigan ng Bagong Katipunan / families and friends of the new
Katipunan). The wives of the mutineers lead the committee.
a statement, the committee said: “Asking for mercy is not an option.
For this act is a recourse for those who are guilty.
We will not beg for mercy for the release of our loved ones for they are
not guilty. Instead we shall stand
up and let our voices be heard.”
families and friends of the young officers who rebelled against the corruption
in the AFP are working against the illegal detention of their loved ones. The mutineers have been detained at the Camp Crame for three
The InPeace findings will be compiled and published. Copies will be sent to international and national government agencies, including the United Nations, it was reported. Bulatlat.com