Tag Archive: Zamboanga Peninsula


An Abu Sayyaf member and seven other inmates escaped from the Basilan Provincial Jail in Isabela City early Tuesday, police said.

Among those who escaped is Abu Sayyaf member Said Usman, Isabela City Police chief Superintendent Albert Larubis said.

Usman, a resident of Lantawan, is facing charges of four counts of kidnapping with serious illegal detention, Larubis said.

The other escapees were identified as Akmad Arasani, Obet dela Cruz, Serham Akalun alias Bagio, Benhar Ibrahim, Oliver Tinguha, Mumar Jajuli, and Arajan Dala.

Akalun, Tinguha, and Dala are facing charges for different counts of murder.

Arasani is facing charges of frustrated murder and violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, Dela Cruz is charged for robbery, Ibrahim for cattle rustling, and Jajuli for illegal drugs.

Larubis said the duty provincial jail guard discovered the jailbreak around 8 a.m., while conducting an accounting of inmates at the facility in Geras, Brgy. Sumagdang.

Investigation indicated that the inmates who escaped were detained at cell no. 2, and managed to bolt out by climbing through the ceiling and jumping to the concrete fence, he said.

Police and jail guards are now conducting operations to recapture the escapees. (John Roson)

– end –

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

The number of fatalities in the suspected car bomb explosion in Zamboanga City rose to two while the injured now stand at 52, authorities said Saturday.

This developed as it was learned that all police units in Mindanao had been placed under the highest alert status due to “threats of terrorism,” hours before the blast.

The second fatality was identified as Dennis Valiente, Zamboanga City Police director Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro said in a text message.

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

Valiente, 33, expired around 8:30 p.m. while undergoing treatment at the Western Mindanao Medical Center (WMMC), according to an emailed report from the Zamboanga Peninsula regional police.

Ten of the injured, including policeman SPO1 Sanzibal Laha Bajari, remain at the WMMC, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Ciudad Medical Center, Zamboanga Peninsula Medical Center, and the Doctors Hospital as of Saturday, according to the report.

Members of the 9th Regional Crime Laboratory Ofice are still trying to determine the type of improvised explosive that went off, Casimiro said.

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

The military said earlier that Friday’s 3:30 p.m. explosion came from a red Toyota sedan parked beside the Fantasy disco bar in Brgy. Guiwan.

The bar is just in front of the Guiwan bus terminal.

Members of the military’s Task Group Zamboanga (TGZ) and policemen cordoned the area while forensics teams gathered materials to determine the type of improvised explosive device that went off.

Superintendent Ariel Huesca, Zamboanga City Police spokesman, said Friday night that additional policemen from the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion and TGZ have also been scattered in and around the city to conduct checkpoints.

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

photo from Zamboanga City Police Public Safety Company

The explosion occurred while government troops are conducting an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in neighboring Basilan province.

The al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for several bombing incidents in Zamboanga City in the past.

Abu Sayyaf retaliation eyed

A senior police official said Saturday that the bombing in Brgy. Guiwan may have been a retaliation for a foiled attempt to spring Abu Sayyaf members from the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center.

“It’s the foiled jail escape,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Jail guards foiled the plot on January 19, after finding three guns and more than 100 ammunition inside two cells of the ZCRC.

The firearms and ammunition, which were supposed to be used in the escape of 57 Abu Sayyaf inmates, were hidden inside two concrete stoves brought in by a woman, according to a report from the regional police.

Entire Mindanao on full alert

Meanwhile, another police official said Saturday that all police units in Mindanao had been placed under the highest alert status before the explosion in Zamboanga City.

“All of Mindanao is in full alert… It took effect Friday morning,” Northern Mindanao regional police director Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said in a text message.

National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina ordered the raising of the alert status, Cruz said.

Cruz, in a statement emailed Friday night, said he directed all police units in his region to observe the status in light of “threats of terrorism” and the IED explosion in Zamboanga.

Full alert, the highest among three police alert statuses, means that all policemen in affected units should be available for duty.

The implementation of full alert in Northern Mindanao comes with “target-hardening” measures, 24/7 checkpoints, deployment of EOD and K-9 units at bus terminals, maximized police visibility in areas of convergence, and border patrols, Cruz said.

“Surprise random checkpoints are also implemented,” he said.

Northern Mindanao is connected to the Zamboanga Peninsula in the west by Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.

The region’s two highly urbanized cities – Cagayan de Oro and Iligan – experienced bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militants in recent years.

“While the PNP enourages vigilance, the public is advised not to panic… Community members are encouraged to report suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest police station,” Cruz said in his statement. (John Roson)

– end –

(Update 10 p.m.) A man was killed while 48 other people were injured when an improvised bomb exploded beside a disco bar in Zamboanga City Friday afternoon, authorities said.

“One died while forty-five persons were wounded in the IED (improvised explosive device) explosion,” Zamboanga City police spokesman Superintendent Ariel Huesca said in a text message Friday night.

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that the number of injured later rose to 48, as per the city government’s tally.

The victims were brought to the Western Mindanao Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Zamboanga Peninsula Hospital and Doctors Hospital, Huesca said.

Killed was Reynaldo Tan, while the injured include a person who is “critically wounded” and a policeman, city police information officer SPO2 Alex Mabalot said by phone.

‘Blast came from car’

The blast came from a car parked beside the Fantasy Disco Pub in Brgy. Guiwan, Muyuela said, citing information from the Task Group Zamboanga (TGZ).

The explosive was “encased” in a red Toyota sedan (WOH-608) owned by one Ralph Lakibul, a resident of Brgy. Canelar, according to a separate military report.

“Hindi totally nawasak ‘yung kotse, mare-recognize mo pa ‘yung porma niya na kotse, pero nakataas na ‘yung hood,” Mabalot said.

The site of the 3:30 p.m. explosion is located just across the street in front of the Guiwan Bus Terminal, he added.

Security tightened

Members of the TGZ and policemen have cordoned the area, Muyuela said.

Post-blast investigation was still ongoing Friday night “to determine the signature/type of IED used by the perpetrators,” Huesca said.

“Undetermined pa kung ano ang sumabog, maraming version, we are still waiting for the EOD (explosives and ordnance disposal unit) to report,” Mabalot said.

Additional policemen from the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion and TGZ have also been scattered in and around the city to conduct checkpoints, Huesca said.

The explosion occurred while security forces are conducting an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in neighboring Basilan province.

The al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for several bombing incidents in Zamboanga City in the past.

Northern Mindanao alerted

Meanwhile, policemen in the neighboring region of Northern Mindanao were placed under full alert – the highest among three alert statuses – after the explosion in Zamboanga City.

All police units were told to observe the status in light of the IED explosion and “threats of terrorism,” regional police director Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said in a statement.

The full alert status comes with “target-hardening” measures, 24/7 checkpoints, deployment of EOD and K-9 units at bus terminals, maximized police visibility in areas of convergence, and border patrols, he said.

Northern Mindanao is connected to the Zamboanga Peninsula in the west by Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.

The region’s two highly urbanized cities – Cagayan de Oro and Iligan – already experienced bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militants in recent years.

“While the PNP enourages vigilance, the public is advised not to panic… Community members are encouraged to report suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest police station,” Cruz said. (John Roson)

– end –

Twenty-two people have been killed while almost 30,000 fled their homes due to clashes between state forces and Moro gunmen in Zamboanga City, authorities said Friday, as fighting raged for the fifth day.

The number of evacuees rose to 5,667 families or 29,557 persons after the city government implemented a forced evacuation in some areas, Adriano Fuego, Office of Civil Defense-9 director, said.

The city government, in a resolution, ordered evacuations in Brgys. Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon, Mampang, and “other affected barangays” on Thursday.

Fighting has already affected seven areas – Brgys. Zone 4 Poblacion, Mampang, Talon-talon, Kasanyangan, Sta. Catalina, Rio Hondo, Mariki, and Sta. Barbara – as of Friday afternoon, Fuego said by phone.

“The evacuees from these areas are staying in 17 evacuation centers… (kailangan nila ng) mga gamot and hygienic materials but we already requested for that. Hindi problema ang food dahil maraming galing sa city government. Ang problema lang talaga ay ‘yung influx ng evacuees,” he said.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said the number of fatalities has already reached 22 while that of the injured stood at 52.

The fatalities comprise two soldiers, three policemen, two civilians, and 15 followers of MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, Zagala, who is in the city, said in a text message to reporters in Manila.

Injured were 28 soldiers, six policemen, and 18 civilians, he said.

Nineteen MNLF members are now in state custody after being arrested, injured in clashes, or surrendering, Zagala said.

The number of casualties does not yet include people injured in clashes that happened in Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Mariki, and Rio Hondo in the afternoon, just hours after President Benigno Aquino III visited the city.

Aquino, in a televised press conference, said he will use the state’s “full force” to protect civilians from more attacks by the gunmen.

Fires hit homes and establishments in Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Mariki, and Rio Hondo as MNLF troops fired mortar rounds and grenade launchers against advancing government troops, television footages showed.

Soldiers, backed by tanks, marched and took fighting positions on the streets.

Eleven Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers were injured when a mortar round exploded in the afternoon, the organization said in its Twitter account.

Before the President arrived, MNLF members on 6 a.m. freed Fr. Michael Ufana, a Catholic priest who is among the more than 100 hostages held by rebels, police confirmed.

Ustadz Habier Malik, an MNLF commander, in a radio interview, said they freed Ufana to help facilitate negotiations with the government. (John Roson)

– end –

The US government has warned its citizens against staying or traveling to the Zamboanga Peninsula amid what it calls a kidnap threat by terrorists against foreign nationals.

“A credible threat of a terrorist kidnapping-for-ransom plot against foreigners has been identified in the Zamboanga area,” the US embassy said in an advisory issued Wednesday.

The embassy advised all American citizens residing in or planning to travel to Zamboanga to “re-evaluate their personal safety situation and consider postponing travel” to the area.

“Any US government personnel already in Zamboanga have been directed to relocate to a secure area,” the embassy said.

“US government employees planning to travel to Zamboanga have been directed to defer their travel at this time,” it added.

The embassy’s warning came two days after police and military personnel arrested a “lawless element” tagged in the abduction of Italian missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, at a mall in Zamboanga City.

Putot Jakaria was arrested Monday on warrants for illegal detention with robbery and kidnapping with serious illegal detention, Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, Zamboanga City police director, said.

Jakaria is “allegedly” involved in the abduction of Bossi, the police official said.

Bossi was abducted on June 10, 2007 in Zamboanga Sibugay and freed July 19 the same year. He died in Milan, Italy in Sept. 2012 at the age of 62 due to lung cancer.

Maj. Ramon Zagala, chief of the Armed Forces’ public affairs office, said the military respects the US Embassy’s issuance of a travel advisory.

“The AFP deems it appropriate for any country to protect and at all times consider the safety and well-being of their people in their own country or abroad, as we likewise do here in the Philippines,” Zagala said.

He said the military will continue to monitor the security situation in Mindanao to protect Filipinos and foreign citizens.

“We are vigilant and will continue to monitor the security situation in the country, particularly in Mindanao. Our intelligence gathering and network sharing with other law-enforcement agencies, particularly the PNP, are in place to prevent any untoward incident,” Zagala said. (John Roson)

– end –

2 rebels killed in Zambo Norte clash

Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members were killed in a clash with government troops in Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte, Wednesday afternoon, the military said.

The clash also resulted in the wounding of another rebel and a soldier, as well as the recovery of an M16 rifle from the rebel side, Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said.

Members of the 10th Infantry Battalion were conducting security patrols in Sitio Napolan, Brgy.Tinuyop, around 3 p.m. when they encountered about 20 rebels, Caber said.

Lt. Col. Taharudin Ampatuan, commander of the 10th IB, said his troops went to the area to respond to reports that rebels were again extorting from residents.

The rebels fled after an hour of fighting, Ampatuan said, adding that troops were still conducting pursuit operations as of Wednesday evening. (John Roson)

– end –

A bodyguard of Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co’s executive assistant was killed after being shot by still unidentified armed men on Tuesday, police said.

Police identified the slain as John Paul Go, a bodyguard of Co’s executive assistant Vic Lingating.

Go expired while being brought to the Pagadian City Medical Center (PCMC), Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles, Zamboanga Peninsula regional police director, said.

Vulcanizing shop operator Edgar Mante was also hit by gunfire and was also brought to the PCMC.

The incident occurred around 4:45 a.m. Along Alano st., Brgy. Santiago.

Go was reportedly having his motorcycle fixed at Mante’s vulcanizing shop when the gunmen, who were also on a motorcycle, opened fire at him.

The shooting occurred amid allegations that Co had a hand in the multi-billion peso investment scam by Aman Futures.

Estilles, however, said investigators see the motive for shooting as more of a “personal grudge.”

Members of the Pagadian City Police have nevertheless been directed to secure Mante at the hospital, Estilles said. (John Roson)

– end –

An alleged Abu Sayyaf member wanted for several kidnapping incidents and the Lamitan Siege was arrested inside a mall in Zamboanga City on Tuesday, police said.

Algaber Said, who has a P600,000 bounty on his head, was arrested at the Gateway Mall around 10:30 a.m., PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo said.

Members of the PNP Special Action Force, Air Force Intelligence and Security Group, and National Bureau of Investigation carried outh the arrest, he said.

Said, who uses the alias Talha, was allegedly involved in the kidnappings in Tumahubong, Golden Harvest Plantation, the Lamitan Siege – all in Basilan – and served as a “spotter” for the Abu Sayyaf’s kidnap-for-ransom activities, Cerbo said.

The suspect has been brought to the NBI Regional Office 9 for investigation, he said. (John Roson)

– end –

Authorities arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf member wanted for the abduction of Jehovah’s Witnesses preachers in Sulu 10 years ago, during an operation in Zamboanga City on Friday.

Suspect Walid Amping was arrested in Brgy. Tulongatung around 11:20 a.m., Senior Supt. James Mejia, Zamboanga City Police director, said.

The arrest was made after witnesses positively identified the suspect, Mejia said.

Amping, who was only in his teens during the abduction, has been using the name Alexander Antonio after going into hiding, said a police source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter.

The suspect’s real name was only discovered when relatives visited him in detention, the source said.

Amping is presently being investigated for his possible involvement in the abduction of school teacher Flordeliza Ongchua in Brgy. Labuan on Nov. 13, the source added.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said Amping, who also uses the alias Tuma, is facing six counts of kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention.

Members of the Army’s Task Force Zamboanga, 3rd Air Division, and Zamboanga City Police carried out the arrest on a warrant issued by Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266 Judge Toribio Ilao, he said.

On Aug. 20, 2002, Abu Sayyaf members kidnapped six Jehovah’s Witnesses preachers and their Muslim guide in Jolo, Sulu, and later beheaded two of the victims. (John Roson)

– end –

Unidentified armed men ambushed an anti-mining tribal chieftain in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, early Tuesday, leaving him injured and his 12-year-old son dead, the military said.

Lucenio Manda, chairman of Brgy. Conacon and one of the four Subanen tribal leaders of Bayog, suffered a bullet wound to the back, while his son Jordan died on the spot, Army 1st Infantry Division spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber said.

The incident occurred around 6 a.m. while Manda and his son were passing near the junction of Brgys. Matin-ao and Datagan, on a motorcycle.

Manda was driving the motorcycle from lower Conacon to his home, when he and his son were fired upon by about five men, Caber said.

Members of the 53rd Infantry Battalion were deployed to help the local police track down the assailants and determine the motive for the attack on Manda, who is a known “anti-mining advocate,” Caber said. (John Roson)

– end –