3 missing Islamic scholars from Basilan abducted at NAIA-3? PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 February 2012 14:57

Three Islamic scholars from Basilan who disappeared last January appear to have been abducted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, a group said Saturday.

The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) said it has confirmed the three checked in their baggage but never claimed them at the NAIA-3.

“Because of this circumstantial evidence, we can now establish the place where the supposed incident took place and our presumption is that the three were abducted inside the airport terminal even before they could claim their bags,” said Camilo Manio, FIND Search and Documentation Program Officer.
Missing since Jan. 4 are Islamic scholars Najir Gumuntul Ahung, 38; Rasdie Bisita Kasaran, 21; and Yusup Cadlus Mohammad, 21, all of Al-Barka, Basilan.

The three were bound for Khartoum, Sudan and were scheduled to leave Manila via Qatar Airways at 12:10 a.m. of Jan. 4.

They were to take up a six-year course on the Arabic language at the International University of Africa on scholarships.

According to FIND, the three were last seen on January 3, when they boarded an Air Philippines flight from Zamboanga City bound for Manila.

“Flight documents confirm that all three got to the NAIA Terminal 3 but never got on board their scheduled flight to Khartoum, Sudan,” it said.

FIND said it confirmed last Feb. 14 from Air Philippines’ baggage section at the NAIA-3 that the three scholars’ checked-in bags were never claimed.
Relatives of the three, accompanied by representatives from FIND and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), secured the unclaimed baggage.

FIND said the female relatives of the victims turned emotional and cried upon seeing the bags of Najir Ahung and Yusup Mohammad.

Manio said they will cite the baggage in stating the material facts of the case during hearings for a writ of amparo.

“The evidence established our presumption that the victims were taken against their will inside NAIA Terminal 3, a secured facility within the control of airport authorities,” he said.

FIND said the victims’ relatives suspect government security agents were behind the abduction.

It said the suspicions stemmed from unconfirmed reports linking Ahung, Kasaran and Mohammad to the October 19, 2011 ambush of Army’s Special
Forces personnel by suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), near Al-Barka, Basilan.

On the other hand, the AFP maintained it had nothing to do with the incident.

“We have no information on the three na sinasabi nila as alleged, so kumbaga wala kaming kinalaman talaga dun, hindi namin alam yun.... we’ve always followed the rule of law ... The three are not in our custody,” said AFP information chief Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr.

Also, Task Force Usig Col. Henry Libay told FIND the three missing men were nowhere to be found in Camp Crame and other PNP custodial camps.
A writ of amparo suit has been filed before the Supreme Court last February 13 by relatives of three Muslim scholars.

The writ is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission.

Named respondents were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Brig. Gen. Cesar Ronnie Ordoyo, Chief of the AFP Intelligence Service.

On the other hand, authorities filed a complaint with the Basilan Prosecutor’s Office against the MILF men behind the massacre. They also implicated 300 “John Does.”

The victims’ relatives sought the assistance of authorities to ascertain the whereabouts of the three missing men.

On January 20, FIND and the victims’ relatives sought the intervention of the AFP Human Rights Office Chief Colonel Domingo Tutaan.

While the AFP units have yet to come up with results, Tutaan assured an investigation is ongoing.

Last January 26, a relative of the three men, Cpl. Yaser Ladjatua – a member of the Philippine Army and a resident of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City – filed a request with the Quezon City Police District Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit to record the disappearance in its blotter.

From January 20 to 31, FIND’s search teams checked detention facilities such as Camp Bicutan Detention Center, Camp Karingal, Camp Crame and even a funeral parlor in Manila where recently reported victims of summary executions bodies were kept.

It also inquired at the Regional Trial Courts of Pasay and Manila to check whether cases have been filed against any of the three. — GMA News