MILF denies role in burning of bus PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 April 2011 14:53

A political officer of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) based in Western Mindanao has denied that MILF is responsible for the burning of a Rural Transit bus and killing of Muslim Army officer, his wife and two members of the CAFGU assigned as security escort of the bus.

MILF is a political organization in Mindanao and currently engaged in  peace negotiations with the Philippine government. It has signed ceasefire agreement with the government and agreed to interdict criminal elements and to protect civilians from harm, the political officer said.

For these reasons, he said, the MILF will never attempt to do a plain banditry act such as burning bus and divesting passengers of their belongings. “The MILF will never gain any political advantage in harming innocent civilians and killing Muslims,” said the MILF officer.

A police report disclosed that a Rural Transit bus with body number 9342 loaded with passengers and driven by Crispin Lozada was on its way from Pagadian City to Zamboanga City when four men boarded it at RT Lim Municipality and told the bus conductor that they were heading for Tungawan. However, when the bus reached barangay Upper Tungawan, the four men suddenly drew their handguns and shot the two CAFGUs identified as Joselito dela Cruz and Federico Luchavez, both acted as security men of the bus. Luchavez was brought to nearby hospital in critical condition while Dela Cruz died on the spot. The gunmen then shot dead a Muslim Army Officer identified as Major Julistidi Arasid of the 18th Infantry Battalion and his wife Sitti Aliya Arasid also a Muslim while their son managed to jump from the bus and escaped unhurt.

The gunmen divested the passengers’ belongings and burned the bus along with the three dead persons aboard the bus while other passengers scampered in different directions and ran for their lives.
The gunmen left the burning bus taking with them two M-14 rifles and fled to unknown direction. The Sibugay Police Station in coordination with military in the area are now conducting hot pursuit operation against the perpetrators.