Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Gazmin: No need to present terrorists’ remains

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City—There is no need to present the bodies of the top Southeast Asian terror leaders who were killed in a military air strike last week in Sulu, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said here Monday.
“Hindi na kailangan ipakita ang (We don’t need to present the) bodies,” Gazmin told reporters on the sidelines of a leadership turnover ceremony at the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) here.
He was referring to terror suspects Zulkifli bin Hir from Malaysia and Abdullah Ali from Singapore who were said by the military to have been killed in the air strike on an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Jolo.
Abu Sayyaf leader Umbra Jumdail and 12 others were also killed when Philippine Air Force planes bombed the camp in the hills of Jolo, according to the military.
Police investigators, however, failed to retrieve any bodies, triggering doubts about the military’s claim.
But Gazmin said here that it would be impossible to identify victims of air strikes. He said the only way to identify them was through DNA tests.
“Paano mo ma-identify? Sumabog yun. Puede pa DNA (How can you identify them? They were shattered. Possibly through DNA),” he said.
He said confirmation of the deaths was coming from intelligence reports and “people on the ground,” but he declined to elaborate.
Gazmin likened the situation to the case of an Abu Sayyaf leader who was killed in military operations several years ago. He said people were initially hesitant to believe AFP reports on the leader’s death without a body.
“Walang body, but up to now, di na nagpakita (There was no body, but up to now he has not shown himself),” Gazmin said.
While it was not clear who Gazmin was referring to, two top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf were killed in military operations in recent years.  Abu Sabaya and Khadaffy Janjalani were slain in separate incidents and their bodies were never recovered.
Gazmin on Monday led the Nolcom turnover rites from outgoing commander and now AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa to Lieutenant General Anthony Alcantara. Both Dellosa and Alcantara belong to Philippine Military Academy Class of 1979.
In accepting his new post, Alcantara, who served as AFP deputy chief of staff before his appointment, vowed to “sustain and pursue the government’s peace campaign vigorously.”
He said he would make sure that even in insurgency-related issues, “laws are observed, basic rights of people are respected and the commitment to the international humanitarian law is upheld.”
He also vowed to pursue peace efforts through community development and help alleviate poverty in communities.
Asked about the insurgency situation in Nolcom-controlled areas, Alcantara said Central Luzon was peaceful and military efforts would be directed at maintaining this.
Dellosa said that except for the Cordillera, where the terrain is difficult, northern Luzon is practically free of insurgency.
3:16 am | Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

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