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Bisaya Bloggers » Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito

Aug 22 2007

New Bombing Foiled In Southern RP

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 22 Aug) – Philippine police found an improvised explosive device inside a commuter bus during an inspection Tuesday in the southern city Pagadian, about 210 kilometers from Zamboanga City where a bomb attack injured at least 14 people.

The IED was recovered before it was to explode midnight Tuesday inside the bus which came from Zamboanga City, a police report said.

The report said the device was attached to a timer hidden in a luggage. No passengers claimed ownership of the luggage and police have made no arrest.

The bus was on its way to Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao.

Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said he sent a team of explosive experts to disarm the bomb.

«We are investigating who were behind this attempt to blow up the bus and the military is closely working with police authorities to prevent terrorism and protect the public,» he told the Mindanao Examiner.

A powerful bomb explosion late Tuesday in downtown Zamboanga City has been blamed by intelligence officials to the Abu Sayyaf, implicated in the spate of terrorism and kidnappings of foreigners in the southern Philippines.

Police and military have tightened security in the restive region following Tuesday’s blast. Security forces were battling Abu Sayyaf militants and insurgents in Basilan and Jolo islands off Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 20 2007

11 Days Passed, Kidnapped Priest Still Far From Freedom

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Jun) – Philippine troops continue searching for an Italian Catholic missioner, eleven days after he was seized by rebels in the restive region of Mindanao.Rebels have reportedly demanded one million dollars in exchange for the safe release of Rome-based Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions priest Giancarlo Bossi.“Soldiers are tracking down the kidnappers and the priest and right now, we do not their exact location, although there were reports that Bossi is taken to Lanao del Norte province,” Major General Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, told the regional Mindanao Examiner newspaper.Bossi, 57, was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, 300 kms from Lanao del Norte.Police tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as mastermind of the kidnapping.Pajarito said the search for the priest has been hampered by bad weather and rugged terrain in the province. Torrential rains the past days, he said, slowed down the search for Bossi, a native of Milan.“Despite the rain, the search is still going on,” he said.The MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, is also helping in the search for the kidnapped priest. Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said Abdusallam is a not a member of his group, but Abu Sayyaf, blamed by Manila for the terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the troubled region.Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon said troops have located the hideout of the kidnappers and that Bossi may soon be freed, but obviously it was far from truth.Dolorfino said the safety of the hostage is the primary concern of the military and that there is an ongoing negotiation to secure Bossi’s freedom without paying ransom.»Our primary consideration is Bossi’s safety. We will exert all peaceful means to resolve the matter,” he said.The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has expressed concern over the fate of Bossi, who is said to be suffering from hypertension.“As far as we know the captors and their masterminds have not yet been clearly identified, however the evidence points to a well-organized group who could make use of a pump boat, they were fully armed and well equipped and the capture of Fr. Giancarlo was carefully planned.”“Who are these Captors and Masterminds? Who is behind this drama? Why don’t they declare their purpose? Why are they playing with the life of a person and religious leader serving the people in a remote area? Are they threatening everybody, even the whole Nation and the International Community? They must have a purpose. Some people must know about this plan,” it said in a statement on Thursday.It also appealed for any information about the priest.“We pray that persons of good will may dare to bring out the truth and free the nation from those disgraceful acts of tensions Fr. Giancarlo may feel abandoned like Jesus on the cross, may we share with him and with all our people the joy of resurrection,” it said.On Wednesday, Italian missionaries in the Philippines have put up a virtual diary on the Internet to keep track of developments of a kidnapped prelate.“It’s raining in Zamboanga City. Reports, rather than bringing relief, bring only sad confusion. Days ago the military said that Giancarlo would have been released by the days end, then in 24 hours, then 48 and now in 72.”

“Days ago, various agents of the shadowy yet trustworthy secret service told us that Giancarlo was being held in the area of Sibuguey. Then he was no longer there, but near Lanao del Norte (300 kilometres east); then reports placed him on Basilan island (300 kilometres West). It’s like shooting at the breeze. The truth is lost on the face of the map,” part of the entry on the diary said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 17 2007

Muslim Rebels Nearing Hideout Of Kidnapped Italian Catholic Priest In South RP

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 17 Jun) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels helping Filipino authorities rescue a kidnapped Roman Catholic priest have sealed a mountain hideout where the hostage in being held.

Rebel forces were preparing to storm the hideout of rogue MILF rebels blamed for the kidnapping of Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME).

Bossi, 57, was kidnapped at gunpoint June 10 after celebrating mass in the village called Bulawan in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

A senior rebel leader said his group has cordoned off the hideout where the missioner is being held by a notorious kidnap gang leader Akiddin Abdusallam.

Police said Abdusallam is the deputy commander of an MILF unit operating in Zamboanga Sibugay.

But the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with the government, said the gang leader has long been wanted because of his criminal activities and that he has joined the Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda.

The MILF said it has given the kidnappers until before sunrise Monday to free the priest unharmed or face assault.

Rebel forces also put up a blockade in the neighboring province of Lanao del Norte to prevent the kidnappers from escaping with their hostage.

“Our fighters are getting ready to storm the kidnappers’ hideout if the priest is not freed,” one rebel leader told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, said his troops have also surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout. “It is only a matter of time before we can back the Italian priest,” he said.

MILF soldiers have earlier destroyed the twin-engine speedboat used by gunmen in spiriting Bossi to Naga town. But there were no reports about Bossi’s fate.

The MILF forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.

A U.S. EP-3 Orion reconnaissance plane is also helping in the search in the mountainous area of Zamboanga Sibugay. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 15 2007

Muslim Rebels Destroy Escape Boat Of Italian Priest Kidnappers In South RP

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 15 Jun) – Philippine Muslim rebels pursuing the kidnappers of an Italian priest have seized a speedboat used by the gunmen in spiriting the missioner in the restive southern region of Mindanao.The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said its fighters destroyed the twin-engine speedboat used in the kidnapping of Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) priest Giancarlo Bossi.But there were no reports about the fate of Bossi, who was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town by rogue MILF rebels with ties to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.Philippine authorities tagged a rogue MILF leader Akiddin Abdusallam and his brother Waning Abdusallam, in the kidnapping Bossi.The MILF is helping Filipino security forces rescue the 57-year old priest, from Milan.The kidnappers also tried, but failed to escape to Basilan island, the military said.Filipino troops, aided by U.S. EP-3 Orion reconnaissance plane, were searching for the hostage in the mountainous area of Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay.“We are tracking down the kidnappers in Zamboanga Sibugay. Our forces are combing the province in search for the priest,” A regional army chief, Major General Nehemias Pajarito, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.The search is mainly concentrated in the mountainous area of Naga town, but the MILF said the government hunt is scaring the locals away because of indiscriminate arrest of Muslim villagers on suspicion they were involved in the kidnapping.The MILF identified those arrested as Moner, Kaleng Kang, Nano and Atoy, all surnamed Yusop; and Malik and Merham Arajan.“They are reportedly being grilled to make them confess that they participated in the priest’s abduction,” the chairman of the MILF’s ad hoc joint action group, Abdul Dataya, said.General Pajarito said the men were only invited for questioning and all have been released.“There is no indiscriminate arrest of civilians. We are only inviting some people for interview about the kidnapping and they are also release immediately. Civilians are helping us and providing information about the priest,” the general said.The MILF forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.The MILF said it is working closely with the government through the ad-hoc joint action group to track down criminals and terrorists.The rebel group also provided the government of a list of suspected Filipino and Indonesian terrorists operating in Mindanao. It previously helped Philippine authorities track down and arrest suspected Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the troubled region.Early this month, MILF rebels rescued a German national and three other Filipinos kidnapped by bandits in the southern province of North Cotabato.The four — Thomas Wallraf, from Cologne, Germany and his wife, May Sharon and two others — Diego Daniel, their driver; and Consuelo San Juan, a family friend – were kidnapped while traveling in Pikit town.Last year, the MILF rescued a kidnapped nine-year old girl, Donna May Ramos, in Basilan island after rebels stormed the hideout of her captors and arrested two men, who were later executed.

Rebels also freed a kidnapped social worker, Henry de Guzman, in the southern province of Lanao del Norte last year. (With a report from Joseph Danda)

Jun 12 2007

Rebel Leader Denies Hand In Kidnap Of Italian Priest In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 13 Jun) – The chief suspect in the kidnapping of an Italian priest in the troubled southern Philippines region has denied involvement in the disappearance of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi.Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was taken at gunpoint by renegade members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on June 10 after celebrating mass in the remote coastal village of Bulawan in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.Police and military have tagged the brothers Akiddin and Waning Abdusallam in the kidnapping. The MILF, denying its involvement in the priest’s disappearance, disowned the two men, saying, they are Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda.Police said Akiddin Abdusallam is the deputy commander of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula.Army Major General Nehemias Pajarito, in-charge for the rescue of the missioner, said Akiddin Abdusallam denied any participation in the Bossi’s kidnapping.“Akiddin Abdusallam has denied any involvement in the kidnapping of the Italian priest. Fr. Bossi. He said he has no participation in the kidnapping. Authorities are investigating this claim,” Pajarito, commander of the First Infantry Division, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.He did not say if Abdusallam, also tagged in previous kidnappings-for-ransom and piracy in Zamboanga, contacted the military or has sent an emissary to deny all the charges against him.The 57-year old Bossi, from Italy’s Abbiategrasso region, has been described by his PIME superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo, as a good man. “He is well-loved by everybody. He is a good man and Filipinos call him a gentle giant because of his huge size – he is about two meters tall,” the priest, also an Italian, said in a separate interview in Zamboanga City.Bossi, who started his missionary in Payao in 1998, is the third Italian priest kidnapped in Zamboanga Peninsula in the past ten years.Moro rebels kidnapped Fr. Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.In 2001, renegade MILF rebels snatched Fr. Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. His companions claimed he suffered from Stockholm syndrome, a phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to his or her captor. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 12 2007

RP Troops Search For Kidnapped Italian Priest

Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, in Mindanao, says Tuesday, 12 June 2007, troops are tracking down kidnapped Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Authorities blame rogue Moro rebels as behind the kidnapping.

(Mindanao Examiner Photo Service/Joseph Danda)

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 12 Jun) – Philippine troops continued searching Tuesday for a kidnapped Italian priest in the restive southern region of Mindanao, officials said.

Father Giancarlo Bossi, 57, was kidnapped by rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after celebrating mass Sunday in the village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town, officials said.

Officials said church leaders were trying to contact the kidnappers for the safe release of the priest.

“Church officials and civilians are trying to contact the kidnappers, but so far there have been no words on the whereabouts of the Italian priest and his abductors,” Major General Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Police and military implicated a senior MILF leader Akiddin Abdusallam and his brother, Waning Abdusallam, as behind the kidnapping.The MILF has denied involvement in the kidnapping and said the two men are members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for terrorism and previous kidnappings of foreigners in the southern Philippines.Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Rabasio, an army spokesman, told reporters that church leaders have sent out SMS in the province in the hope the message would reach the kidnappers and free the priest.He said: “Civilian and religious sectors are trying to open up negotiations with the kidnappers.”

Rabasio said troops were tracking down the kidnappers in the province. (With reports from Juley Reyes and Joseph Danda)

Mar 12 2007

Rebels Want Head Of Decorated General

MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / 12 Mar) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said sporadic clashes in the strife-torn island of Mindanao may soon subside after Manila vowed to remove a decorated commander of military forces they blamed for the fighting.Manila is currently negotiating peace with the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, which is fighting for self-determination in Mindanao.Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, said he was told by the government peace panel that the Philippine Army would replace Major General Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the 6th Infantry Division in central Mindanao.“I was told that General Pajarito would be replaced. Pajarito is the cause of all these troubles and fighting in Mindanao the past months,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.He said Pajarito would be replaced by Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, based in Pulacan town in Zamboanga del Sur province, west of Mindanao.Pajarito is one of the most decorated commanders in the southern Philippines and has been largely credited by civilians for keeping the peace in the troubled region.Both Pajarito and Ferrer could not be reached for comment.Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a regional army spokesman, said he was not aware of the report. “We have not received anything about General Pajarito and as a matter of fact, we have just come from a conference today and nothing was discussed about that,” he said in a separate interview.Fighting the past months in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces in central Mindanao have killed and wounded dozens of people.The MILF blamed Pajarito for the skirmishes and warned the continued fighting is threatening a fragile six-year old cease-fire in Mindanao.Iqbal accused government soldiers of attacking rebel forces in Mindanao the past months, breaking a 2001 truce agreement. The attacks killed and wounded scores of rebels and drove thousands of Muslim villagers fleeing their homes.“The fighting and the continued attack of government forces are now threatening the cease-fire agreement. It is now under threat and in danger of collapsing unless the government acts swiftly to save the peace process,” Iqbal said.But Ando blamed the rebels, saying, they were attacking government troops and detachments without provocation.“We are not the problem. The rebels are attacking us and the MILF violated the cease-fire agreement many times in the past,” he said.Iqbal accused the 6th Infantry Division of derailing the peace talks.“Troops are encroaching in our areas and government planes were bombing our positions and we cannot do anything, but defend ourselves and our people,” Iqbal said.He said clashes were also reported in the provinces of Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan. Government troops, backed by helicopters and war planes, were attacking MILF forces, in the guise of pursuing Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants.Iqbal said soldiers also killed two Muslim civilians – a grandmother Taute Taha and teenager Rasul Balat – in Maguindanao’s Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.President Gloria Arroyo opened up peace talks with the MILF in 2001 and signed a cease-fire agreement, but despite the truce fighting still continues with the two sides accusing each other of breaking the accord.On Sunday, MILF and military seized more than two dozens soldiers and rebels from both sides after a near firefight in Lumba Bayabao town in Lanao del Sur province.All the hostages were freed after a tense negotiation between senior rebel and military commanders.Arroyo on Monday met with top officials of the Cabinet Cluster on National Security in Manila to discuss the worsening situation in Mindanao.“The best course of action to ensure that the hostilities do not escalate andare exploited by lawless elements is for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to work closely with the established mechanisms of the peace process—the joint ceasefire committees, the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the International Monitoring Team—to keep combatants in place; and increase vigilance against those intent at breaking the peace, at agitating the people, at pitting the Government against theMILF and communities against each other,” she said.Arroyo she decided to step up all measures to enforce the law, preserve the atmosphere of peace and stability, and advance the ongoing peace talks.She ordered the Department of National Defense and the AFP to review and amend the current guidelines on the “Primacy of the Peace Process” and strictly adhere to the cease-fire accord without impairing the operational flexibility and quick response of the AFP in countering threats of terrorism, insurgency and criminality.

“All commanders in the field are enjoined to be constantly aware of the strategicimplications of tactical actions in the proximity of MILF areas. I have alsoordered restraint in the use of artillery and aerial bombing in the conductof military operations,” Arroyo said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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