Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Basilan bishop frustrated over breakdown of peace and order

MANILA, Philippines - A day after the massive jailbreak in Isabela City in Basilan province, Bishop Martin Jumoad bemoaned the increasing number of crimes, delivering strong words over a radio interview Monday.

He said organized crime in Basilan thrive due to a combination of police incompetence and a failure of leadership by local public leaders.

“There is no peace at all here. There is kidnapping, there is beheading, there is also jailbreak. I told Secretary Gonzales we have already enough of this in Basilan,” he said over Church-run Radyo Veritas.

The bishop accused the local authorities of being “reactionary” to the several untoward incidents in the troubled region.

He said his recent meeting with Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales focused on the peace and order situation in Basilan.

Jumoad added that the local police lack the logistics and other support to go after criminals operating in the province.

He said Gonzalez met with him at his residence in Isabela City to solicit ideas on what can be done in the province, especially in the wake of series of kidnappings, and the massive jailbreak which left three people dead and saw 31 inmates escape on Sunday.

“I also told him the futility of local governments in the province where there is no real public service, we have bad roads, many residents are suffering,” Jumoad said.

Earlier, the prelate said he favored the declaration of martial rule in the province following the beheading of a plywood worker and abduction of a school official.

The government, meanwhile, will deploy additional troops to the additional conflict-wracked southern region of Mindanao to augment forces going working to recapture the escapees.

The military also offered P2-million reward money for the recapture of escapee Dan Ansawi, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander who was accused of being involved in ambush of marine soldiers in Basilan in July 2007.

Four other MILF members escaped during the jailbreak, authorities said.

On December 8, the head of a kidnapped Filipino factory worker Marquez Singson was recovered near Isabela City's square after his family and employer refused to pay P6-million demanded by his kidnappers, the Abu Sayyaf group.

Singson was kidnapped along with Chinese nationals Michael Tan and Oscar Lu in November in Maluso town.

Kidnappers also seized December 10 Basilan State College vice-president Orland Fajardo in Isabela City.

Basilan is stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, which has ties with al-Qaeda and the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group. (Roy Lagarde)

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