Hundreds of Muslims gathered Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007 in the southern Philippine island of Basilan to demand justice for the murder of Basilan Congressman Wahab Akbar. The politician was among 5 people killed after a bomb exploded Nov. 13, 2007 at the House of Representatives in Manila. Police blamed the attack to the Abu Sayyaf group and political opponents of Akbar. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)
BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 26, 2007) - Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday in the southern Filipino province of Basilan and demanded justice for the murder of a Muslim lawmaker.
Basilan Congressman Wahab Akbar was among five people killed when a bomb exploded at the entrance of the House of Representatives in Manila on November 13.
More than a dozen people, including two lawmakers, were also injured in the attack, blamed by the police to the Abu Sayyaf group and Akbar’s political opponents.
“We want justice. The people of Basilan are crying for justice,” said one of Akbar’s four wives, Cherry Lyn Akbar, who is the mayor of Isabela City.
Police said the bombing targeted Akbar and two prominent politicians, Congressman Mujiv Hataman and former lawmaker Abdulgani Salapuddin, and several other politicians in Basilan, were linked to the bombing. Both Salapuddin and Hataman denied any participation in the killing of bombing.
“Everybody in Basilan knows who killed our beloved Congressman Wahab Akbar and Allah will punish them for their crimes. Their souls are now burning in hell,” one supporter of Akbar, Abdullah Salalima, said.
The mayor and the slain politician’s other wife, Jum Akbar, also the governor of Basilan, have been receiving death threats. Security was tight in Basilan during the rally and also because of threats of attacks by the Abu Sayyaf.
A homemade bomb exploded on Monday in Cotabato City, wounding three people, and a second bomb, planted near a budget motel was detonated Tuesday in Sulu province near Basilan island.
Many of those who joined the rally bore placards and streamers seeking justice for Akbar’s murder. “Help us Pres. Arroyo. We seek justice,” one placard reads.
Another one reads: “Madam Pres(ident) we need justice in Batasan blast.”
Security forces killed three men implicated in the bombing in a firefight Nov. 15 in Payatas village in Quezon City.
Three other accomplices, one of them, Ikram Indama had an identification card of the House of Representatives and former driver of Salapuddin. Soldiers and policemen recovered documents linked to a motorcycle used in the bombing.
Police also charged a fourth suspect, Benjamin Hataman, a cousin of Hataman, also a political foe of Akbar. (Mindanao Examiner)