Basilan rubber coop dispute continues: 3 killed in ambush PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 September 2012 13:39

Two unarmed CAFGU militiamen and a civilian were killed while six other persons were wounded  in an ambush staged by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in at Sitio Buhi Manicaan, Barangay Sapa Bulak, Sumisip, Basilan Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the army’s 1st (Tabak) Division, quoted Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade based in Basilan, to have said the victims were on board motorcycles on their way home from Tumahubong where they attended a dialogue with NGOs, religious groups and officials of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) to tackle the conflict in the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Development  Cooperative (TARBIDCI) when Abu Sayyaf gunmen opened fire on them.

Galvez said the perpetrators of the ambush were led by Ahmad Aliman, Umair Wakil, Akbar Tampuri and Madi Umangkat.

The fatalities were brought to Isabela City, while the wounded were taken to Zamboanga City for treatment.

Army soldiers and police troopers were dispatched to go after the perpetrators.

Capt. Caber said the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan has mounted a series of attacks against TARBIDCI rubber tappers.

Tabak Division commander Brig. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III ordered troops to continue their operations in the affected areas in collaboration with the local police.

“I am saddened by the death of the civilians and unarmed militiamen. We will ensure that all mandated taskswill be performed while ensuring human rights, rule of law and laws of armed conflict,” said Gen. Cruz.

The TARBIDCI dispute had already triggered several attacks before last Thursday’s ambush.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen ambushed two trucks loaded with workers of a rubber plantation cooperative, killing one and wounding 35 in Tumahubong, last

TARBIDCI rubber tappers were on board two trucks shortly before 8 a.m., when an undetermined number of gunmen positioned on both sides of the road rained them with bullets.

Earlier the government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has created a task force that will probe hostilities in the Tumahubong rubber plantation in Basilan.

Mujiv S. Hataman, ARMM acting regional governor, said the task force is composed of representatives from the religious community, and officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), local government units, government security agencies and members of the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Development Cooperative, Inc. (TARBIDC).

TARBIDC, the former Sime Darby Rubber Plantation, is one of the largest in Basilan with over 1,700 hectares planted with rubber.

“There are historical conflicts that we have to address,” he said.

Jaime J. A. Rivera, executive director of the Basilan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., said the conflict in the Tumahubong agrarian reform cooperative is an example of problems facing investors when doing business in Basilan.

“We hope the authorities, especially those in Malacañang look deeper into this,” he said.

Early this year, 10 soldiers were killed following a clash with armed men who were allegedly led by former officials of the cooperative.

The incident was cited as the worst that has occurred in the province in recent years. The fighting also affected more than 1,000 families in the four villages.