Angeles: The spy
who came in from the cold
An INQ7.net exclusive
Angeles with wife Yang
HALF-TAUSUG, Edwin Angeles was the perfect
government agent to infiltrate a new group
in Basilan island propagating Muslim fundamentalist
teachings, a group that would later be known
as the Abu Sayyaf.
Angeles had earlier gained access to the
urban groups of the Moro National Liberation
Front and the communist movement in Bataan
as part of his work for a number of military
This government spy – whose Muslim name
was Ibrahim Yakub – played a pivotal role
in the growth of the Abu Sayyaf and their
later forays into the world of kidnap-for-ransom,
according to journalist and author Arlyn
de la Cruz in her upcoming book on the Abu
Sayyaf and its top leaders.
Angeles, the author says, "holds the key
to the deep intricacies of how some government
agencies manipulated the rawness of the
Abu Sayyaf during its early years."
"Edwin was the first deep penetration agent
of the military to the Abu Sayyaf. He was
the one who actually introduced the idea
of kidnapping as part of the fund-raising
activities of the Abu Sayyaf," De la Cruz
states in her book.
The Abu Sayyaf’s first kidnapping for ransom
was in 1992; the victim was a Davao-based
businesswoman. She was held hostage hostage
for three months inside the house of Ustadz
Abdurajack Janjalani in Tabuk, Isabela.
At that time, the Brigade Headquarters of
the Philippine Marines was just a stone’s
throw away from the house of the Janjalanis
"Edwin planned the abduction and even initiated
the plan himself," De la Cruz says. Wearing
a police uniform and tying a fake bomb around
the body of the victim, Angeles told the
woman he would not think twice of pressing
the button if she will make any "unusual"
The lady trader was released after her
relatives paid P1-million pesos to the Abu
Angeles was also reportedly involved in
the daytime abduction of then five-year
old kindergarten pupil Luis "Ton-Ton" Biel
and his grandfather in April 1993. After
two days, they released the older Biel but
held on to the child.
At that time, an MNLF lost command led
by Jul Jilang abducted Claretian priest
Bernardo Blanco in Lantawan, Basilan. Jilang’s
group later turned over the priest to the
custody of the Abu Sayyaf.
These twin abductions were then television
news reporter De la Cruz’s first exclusive
report on the Abu Sayyaf, and the bandit
group’s first taste of media exposure.
De la Cruz relates that Angeles was the
Operations Officer of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
He was active in the recruitment of Muslim
converts to the ASG.
The ASG had to issue statement related
to the abduction, and Ustadz Abdurajack
Janjalani thought that it was very early
for him to make a media appearance.
It was Angeles who did the talking.
Judging from his intonation, one can easily
detect that Angeles was not pure Tausug.
He spoke in Tagalog all throughout our interview,
De la Cruz says.
She recalls that one of her questions then
was the kidnapping itself – If they were
fighting for the attainment of an Islamic
state, where does kidnapping, which is a
criminal act fit in?
"That early, his explanation was vague.
Kidnapping he says is allowed as long as
the rights of the hostage are protected.
But once you took a man against his will
– that is already a violation of his right,
is it not?
Angeles had said that extra-legal measures
are allowed in Islam if the people are oppressed
and are fighting for the right to fully
practice their way of life as dictated by
De la Cruz describes Angeles as a "good
speaker, a good actor. He spoke like a Leftist
leader espousing Fundamentalist principles,
acted like a PMA graduate under the robe
of a Muslim Ustadz."
He was the exact opposite of Ustadz Abdurajack,
she notes. But when Ustadz Abdurajack starts
to address his men – even the talkative
Edwin got eclipsed from the scene.
As she recounts in her book: "In the early
years of the ASG, there were many commanders,
but it was very clear that only one has
the final word, and that position belongs
to Ustadz Abdurajack Janjalani," De la Cruz
"Ustadz Abdurajack had a bearing that it
seemed that the word ‘leader’ is written
all over him. His words were calculated.
He chose his words carefully."
"But one thing I noticed about him during
that first meeting was that he was the only
one inside the camp without any firearms."
De la Cruz was romantically linked to the
the younger brother of Abdurajack, Khaddafy
Janjalani, who would later head the Abu
Sayyaf group, as well as to spy-turned-bandit
But the author denies her involvement with
Angeles, particularly an intelligence report
saying that the DPA was an ardent suitor.
"The truth is he [Angeles] never tried
to court me. He was extra-friendly but there
was never any display of aggressiveness
on his part towards me. Believe it or not,
Edwin Angeles was a perfect gentleman as
far as his treatment to me is concerned.
"There was one ASG commander who courted
me but it was not Edwin," De la Cruz says.
Edwin Angeles surrendered to the Philippine
Marines based in Sulu on February 1995.
The official press release then of the Marines
was that Edwin surrendered because he no
longer saw eye to eye with ASG chieftain
But Angeles would later tell De la Cruz
that he was not yet supposed to surrender
and was in fact surprised to learn about
the decision of his military "handlers"
that it is time to unmask his cover.
He then led the military in a number of
operations against the Abu Sayyaf including
one in Taglibi, Patikul, Sulu where the
bandits from Basilan began building up their
Angeles was now exposed as a government
De la Cruz says in her book that Angeles
was the masked man at the Tagbak checkpoint
in Sulu who identified Khaddafy Janjalani
and Jovenal Bruno as Abu Sayyaf leaders
when they were spotted on board a passenger
jeep to Jolo.
Later Angeles worked as a full-time civilian
agent for the Intelligence Command of the
Philippine National Police.
His biggest project was the eventual arrest
of suspected Arab terrorists in the country.
He was the civilian agent that led the police
into a series of raids in Caloocan, Parañaque
and other parts of Metro Manila.
The problem was that not all of those arrested
were legitimate subjects of police work,
Angeles claimed. There was no evidence against
them, he also alleged.
Angeles released his expose via De la Cruz,
who was then working as a reporter for ABS-CBN.
She tells of their meeting sometime in
March of 1996 in a McDonald’s branch in
"He showed me identification cards with
pictures issued to him by the Intelligence
Command of the PNP. He showed me his mission
orders and the license to carry for his
caliber .45 pistol. The reason Edwin showed
me all these was to convince me that he’s
now really connected with the PNP-IC.
"He even mentioned to me the name of his
"handler (in intelligence lingo, this means
the police officer that directly supervises
the movement and activities of an intelligence
Angeles claimed that top government and
police officials planted evidence on the
arrested suspected Arab terrorists. He even
said he was the one who suggested the type
of firearms they must plant.
De la Cruz states that in exchange for
the expose, the agent asked that the television
station protect him in the same way it had
protected SPO4 Eduardo delos Reyes when
he spilled the beans on the Kuratong Baleleng
rubout and implicated the PNP brass led
by General Panfilo Lacson.
The interview with Angeles was done inside
the ABS-CBN newsroom. Before that Angeles
signed affidavits "stating, on top of his
earlier revelations to me, the alleged plan
to stage the series of raids to justify
the signing into law the proposed Anti-Terrorist
bill pending in Congress at that time,"
De la Cruz says in her book.
"Edwin too told stories to Senator Aquilino
Pimentel Jr. and myself regarding alleged
involvement of the CIA in the creation of
the ASG. This information was part of an
affidavit executed by Angeles in the law
office of Senator Pimentel at the Golden
Loop Tower in Pasig," she adds.
The problem was the security arrangements
that Angeles was seeking for him and his
wife El Mina, whom he called Yang. De la
Cruz says that "several high ranking officials
made calls from the powers that be inside
ABS-CBN and the only decision that has to
be made at that time was for him to be transferred
to another place."
She admits further: "I was not in control
of my story at that time. After the story
on his revelation, the interest of the station
was already at stake. I cannot blame them,
Edwin’s story was really very damaging and
if it will continue for months just like
the Kuratong Baleleng issue, it could severely
affect several institutions. It could affect
other business interests of the network
The television station aired the story
after it was thoroughly reviewed by its
top officials, and then decided that instead
of providing security for Angeles that they
have him transferred to the National Bureau
of Investigation, an agency directly under
the Justice Department, for placement under
the government witness protection program.
Angeles never made it to the WPP. Instead
he was slapped with 54 counts of kidnapping
But that was not to be the final chapter
of Angeles’ story. In this case, he got
acquitted. The trial took place in the municipal
court in Isabela, Basilan. The judge who
heard the case said he had no choice but
to acquit Angeles because he presented evidence
proving that all the crimes that were attributed
to him were all done as part of his job
as a government DPA.
"What surprised me even more was the fact
that at least two police officers from the
PNP-IC and another from the Philippine Marines
testified before the court attesting that
indeed Edwin Angeles carried out a number
of criminal acts in the performance of his
duties as a DPA funded by legitimate agencies
of government," De la Cruz says.
Part of the evidence Edwin Angeles’ lawyer
presented before the court were the mission
orders, and the identification cards from
Before the news on Edwin’s acquittal came
out, the cases filed against the suspected
Arab terrorists were also dropped due to
lack of evidence as per official court records.
Two months after he was acquitted, Angeles
was up to his old tricks again.
This time De la Cruz was one of the unsuspecting
victims. "I never got to confront Edwin
regarding this story. It was Khaddafy who
provided me the details of Edwin’s true
motives," she says.
It seems that while he was detained in
the Isabela, Basilan municipal jail, Angeles
was reunited with a key figure in the Abu
Sayyaf, Khaddafy Janjalani who was arrested
the second time in Cebu and later transferred
to the Isabela jail. However, no case was
filed against him.
Inside the congested jail, the bond between
Khaddafy and Edwin was cemented. They were
inseparable after they were both released
Khaddafy even stood as one of the witnesses
during Edwin’s wedding to Yang, who was
a local radio announcer in Isabela, Basilan.
De la Cruz recounts in her book how one
day Angeles just called and told her that
Ustadz Abdurajack was ready to surrender
and that his brother Khaddafy was working
on his surrender in exchange for several
The former Abu Sayyaf leader and government
DPA was with Khaddafy when he made the call,
which made him credible and believable.
The possibility of being a "facilitator"
in the surrender of Ustadz Abdurajack appealed
to De la Cruz. Besides, there were already
intelligence reports stating that Ustadz
Abdurajack was very sick and had acquired
She set up arrangements with the PNP-IC
then led by Superintendent Arturo Lumibao
began for the scheduled surrender.
The PNP jet was prepared and a date was
set. De la Cruz, the police and government
officials waited in Zamboanga. Ustadz Abdurajack
was to be presented to then President Fidel
V. Ramos at Camp Crame where he was guest
speaker for the PNP’s anniversary.
As it turned out, the surrender was a hoax.
"Edwin simply wanted to get even with the
very same unit that manipulated him and
used him to meet their goals. Khaddafy later
told me that he agreed to Edwin’s plan because
he wanted Edwin to have the last laugh,"
de la Cruz says.
"He told me that Edwin was really very
angry because he was used in a game where
‘pawns’ like him were sacrificed."
The PNP reportedly spent almost P300,000
in operational expenses for the hoax surrender
of Ustadz Abdurajack.
"It was revenge for Edwin. Khaddafy later
told me that he was merely standing by a
friend," De la Cruz adds.
But now, Angeles’ world was narrower and
narrower. The PNP Recom-9 Intelligence Team
was after him. The Southern Command was
after him. Other ASG members were also after
But surprisingly, Angeles again managed
to find a new access inside the Southern
Command. He reportedly volunteered to be
the negotiator for the release of foreign-kidnap-victim
Beus abducted by a faction of the MILF in
Zamboanga Del Norte. The negotiation involved
a payment of ransom amounting to P500,000.
Angeles served as the conduit, Southcom
entrusted him the ransom money provided
by relatives of the kidnap victim.
But according to intelligence reports,
the ransom money never reached the group,
De la Cruz asserts in her book. Edwin never
showed up again at the Southern Command.
Yang’s version of the Beus abduction was
they were blackmailed by another armed group.
Edwin, she maintains, merely wanted to help.
There was nowhere to go for Angeles but
back to the jungles.
He tried to put up an armed group on his
own in Sacol island near the Zamboanga peninsula.
There he stayed for 8 months.
Sacol Island is a place where all armed
groups mostly wanted by law are seeking
refuge. There were intelligence reports
that Edwin got involved with a group engaged
in the illegal drugs trade.
But De la Cruz quoted Yang as saying that
her husband organized armed supporters that
has parallel ideals with that of the Abu
Angeles decided to leave the island when
his wife’s pregnancy was placed in danger.
This decision proved fatal.
De la Cruz writes about that ignominous
day, January 14, 1999, from Yang’s eyewitness
account. The couple had beem staying in
a coastal baranggay in Zone-3 Kaum-Purnah
in Isabela, Basilan.
"Edwin was on his 2nd day of
fasting, a few days before Hariraya. He
was at the mosque for the 12 noon prayer.
"Yang felt a sudden rush of blood. She
was nervous but don’t know why. She decided
to go near the mosque to wait for Edwin.
"She saw Edwin come out of the mosque together
with her cousin. She decided to stop to
a nearby store when she saw Edwin walking
towards her direction.
"But in just one split second – she heard
a gun shot, followed by two more. Then she
saw Edwin down on his knees.
"She screamed like she never screamed before.
She rushed to her husband’s side and was
in fact able to see the faces of her husband’s
"Humihinga pa si Edwin nang yakapin ko,
[He was still breathing when I held him
close.] Yang narrates.
"But he never said a word, just stared
at her, pressed her hand and closed his
eyes. Yang knew then, her husband already
left her – permanently.
"In one of his letters to her, Edwin wrote,
‘I want to die in your arms.’ That wish
* * *
Up to now, says De la Cruz, she still cannot
understand Angeles’ motivation for becoming
a government agent. The money is not big,
and the risks are very high.
As an agent, posing as a bonafide Abu Sayyaf
member, Angeles lived a simple life, mostly
in the mountains. When he exposed his cover
and became full time in the intelligence
community, he stayed in a modest apartment
and received P12,000.00 a month.
"What I do know is that he was very good
at it. At one point he seemed to really
be bent on eliminating the Abu Sayyaf, then
in another instance, he seemed like the
true Mujahideen ready to gun down the enemy."
De la Cruz recalls that in one of her conversations
with Angeles he spoke of his arrangement
with "Jack" – Ustadz Abdurajack Janjalani.
That arrangement, he points out, is one
of the reasons why he worked full time in
the intelligence agency of the PNP.
"Arlyn, the truth is, my heart is with
the group, I’m doing this for Jack."
De la Cruz asks in her book: "Was he an
Abu Sayyaf turned government agent? Or a
government agent turned Abu Sayyaf? Up to
the end – Edwin was mysterious – as mysterious
as his beginnings and contribution to a
problem now called the Abu Sayyaf in Southern