ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 4, 2010) – Philippine police have implicated a former lawmaker and two defeated mayors as allegedly behind the failed assassination of Sulu Governor Sakur Tan in a suicide bombing outside the Zamboanga International Airport.
Tan was among over two dozen people wounded in the August 5 terror attack. The bomber, Reynaldo Apilado, and Hatimil Haron, one of his cohorts, were killed in the blast.
Chief Superintendent Edwin Corvera, the regional police chief, said former Sulu Representative Munir Arbison was implicated by witnesses to the bombing, including two of his political allies, ex-mayors Najib Maldiza of Maimbung town, and Ahmad Nanoh, of Pangutaran.
Arbison ran against Tan in general elections in May this year, but he lost. Both Maldiza and Nanoh also lost in the elections.
Senior Superintendent Edwin Diocos, regional chief of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the three politicians were implicated by at least 4 witnesses who claimed to have knowledge of the failed assassination of Tan.
“Based on the testimonies of witnesses that they were among (those) who talked (and) conspired with each other (to kill Tan) in a certain place here in Zamboanga City and somewhere in Manila,” Diocos told reporters, adding the witnesses were present during the planning to assassinate Tan.
“The four witnesses were there present during the planning,” he said.
Police also implicated at least three more men – Allan Sabudin, Muamar Astali and Adong Salahuddin – in the attack after they were seen in a hotel security video in Zamboanga City together with Apilado and Haron before the bombing. The three men remain at large.
But police also accused Maulana Omar, Jojo Adam, Musimar Alih, Munir Hadjirul and several more who are allies of Arbison in the failed assassination of Tan.
Arbison in an interview with a local television station has denied all the accusations against him. “We will answer all the accusations. I know my conscience is clean,” he told TV 11.
Tan also survived a roadside bombing last year in Sulu province, but ten of his companions, including a town mayor, were wounded in the attack. One of the suspects in the bombing, Abner Tahil alias Abs was arrested late last month in the village of Kasangyangan in Jolo town in Sulu.
Tahil was also being investigated for his role in the latest attack on Tan.
National police chief Jesus Versoza said the attack was connected to the failed assassination of Tan last year. Police blamed the roadside explosion to the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf after two of its bombers were captured in a firefight with security forces and they pointed to Tan’s political foes as the mastermind in the failed assassination.
Corvera previously said they have received information from people claiming to have knowledge or were involved in the failed assassination of Tan. He said most of the information was passed to them through a police hotline they put up after the bombing.
He said information they received allegedly tagged a defeated congressional aspirant in Sulu province as behind the airport bombing while another implicated two defeated town mayors who are known political foes of the governor, and several policemen and that a bounty was put up by the mastermind to assassinate Tan. A third politician in Sulu, who lost in the May elections, was also implicated in the bombing. (Mindanao Examiner)