ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (ABS-CBN / June 12,2009) - A Sulu congressman on Thursday has denied involvement in the failed May 13 bomb attack against Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan.
Sulu 2nd district Rep. Munir Arbison, through his lawyer Fred Jimenez, said he has nothing to do with the May 13 bombing, that exploded just as the convoy of Tan was passing in the vicinity of the Sulu capitol.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it filed on Wednesday criminal charges against Munir and five other suspects in the failed bomb attack against Tan.
The PNP said that Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-9 (CIDG-9) filed a case of frustrated and attempted murder against Arbison, Timogen "Cocoy" Tulawie and four others identified as Muammar Askali, Sulaiman Muin, Juhan Alihuddin, a certain Abs and several other John and Peter Does.
Muin and Alihuddin are now in the custody of the CIDG and have reportedly issued their extra-judicial confession, purportedly detailing how the explosion was planned and executed.
Jimenez said that he discovered that one of the alleged witnesses to the May 13 bombing alleged that Tulawie told them that "should the case be brought to the court, Arbison will be there to help them."
Arbison also denied the allegation in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
“It’s not really fair. Hindi ko nga kilala ang nahuli at I have never spoken to Cocoy Tulawie personally or by cellphone . Alam mo naman, anti-Abu Sayyaf ako. At tahimik ang 2nd district ng Sulu,” said Arbison in the text message.
Tulawie meanwhile also denied participation in the blast. In a phone interview, Tulawie said he was praying with his son when the explosion took place near the Capitol grounds.
Tulawie said, Tan is merely trying to "get back at him for initiating an investigation on the alleged violations being committed by members of the Civilian Emergency Force (CEF) which Tan created when he placed Sulu under emergency rule."
Tan submitted his affidavit to the office of the Regional State Prosecutor in connection with the explosion on Wednesday.
Arbison meanwhile also said that he was not mentioned by Tan in the affidavit submitted to the prosecutor’s office.
“Further report that I had a role in the incident is belied by the very complaint affidavit of Gov. Tan subscribed and sworn to before 1st assistant city prosecutor Orillo yesterday as my name was not mentioned in the said complaint-affidavit. Nor any involvement or participation by me in the incident was ever alluded to me by Gov Tan,” said Arbison in another text message to ABS-CBN News.
Arbison meanwhile also belied the PNP report that a case has been filed against him.
“The news report that a criminal complaint for frustrated and attempted murders regarding the attempt to assassinate Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan by explosive was filed with the regional state prosecutor's office in Zamboanga City yesterday is not true. No such [case] was filed,” said Arbison in the second text message.
Arbison also said he has not even received a summons from CIDG and was surprised to read a news report that a case has already been filed.
Tan was on his way home from the provincial capitol in Patikul town when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his official vehicle.
The governor survived the attack. Pandami town Mayor Hatta Berta, who was accompanying the governor, and nine others were hurt in the bomb blast. (With reports from Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga and Ces Oreña Drilon, ABS-CBN News)