By Julmunir I. Jannaral, Correspondent
(First of three parts)
Before night falls, Rex Dimacuta makes sure he
is home. He doesn’t want to linger in the street at night, because
that’s the time the police conducts its sweep of Muslims
neighborhoods in search of terrorists.
The wave of police raids has alarmed Muslim
communities in Metro Manila and Muslim businessmen like Dimacuta.
Last week, several Muslims were arrested without
the benefit of a warrant, Dimacuta, the secretary-general of the
Greenhills Traders Association, said.
“We now live in fear and under constant
tension. We are afraid that the next time around it will be our turn
to be picked up by the police,” he said.
When The Manila Times sought Dimacuta for an
interview to get the sentiments of Muslim traders over the recent
arrests of suspected terrorists, he agreed, as long as it is done
He said that since the raids began, he and his
fellow Muslim traders make it a point to go home early.
“We are legitimate businessmen and just like
the rest of any citizen in this country. We Filipino Muslims would
like to support this government, since we owe our unquestionable
allegiance to it,” Dimacuta said.
“But in return we would also like the Arroyo
administration to protect us, since as law-abiding citizens, we are
entitled to protection from the government,” he said.
The antiterrorist campaign is actually
anti-Muslim, since what the police are arresting are innocent
Muslims, and not the real terrorists, human rights activist Amirah
Ali Lidasan said.
Lidasan said the so-called elite antiterror
force formed by the government “is an anti-Muslim machinery that
tends to commit human rights violations against our Moro
brethren,” she said.
But General Rodolfo Garcia, vice chief of staff
of the Armed Forces, who was interviewed in a national television,
said the intensified campaign to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf is not
directed against the Muslims in general.
Garcia said the military or the police do not
target particular groups but people whose involvement in terrorism
is beyond questionable doubt.
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales gave
Garcia’s statement more credence when he said the government has
improved its intelligence network by enhancing coordination among
the intelligence groups.
Garcia said if there was an arrest made, it was
because the intelligence community had gathered enough evidence to
“What evidence are they talking about?”
Ahmad Santos, a member of the Balik-Islam [a Christian who has
embraced Islam] and the subject of police manhunt, said when he
called up The Times from his hideout.
He said the explosives seized from his room at
the AIS Building in Cubao, Quezon City, on March 26, was planted by
the police. “I am not a fool to keep explosives in a building,
where my family resides.
Santos’ two wives, Fatimah and Nur-Ain, and
their children live in AIS. When the police stormed the building,
they did not find him there, so they arrested his wives instead.
The next day The Times received a forwarded text
message from Santos which read: “Salam D polis raided my house and
planted C4, Fatimah and Nur Ain R arrested. Dey are now N Camp
Karingal. Please help us. Salam Bro Ahmad Santos. [Greetings of
peace, the police raided my house and planted C4, Fatimah and Nur
Ain are arrested. They are now in Camp Karingal. Please help us.
With peace, Brother Ahmad Santos].”
The police was quick to deny that Fatima and
Nur-Ain have been arrested. They said the two, one of whom was a
nursing mother, were brought to Camp Karingal merely for
When relatives and friends of the two visited
them they found them behind bars. The two were set free only after
Santos apparently sent the text message to
prevent the police from fabricating information against him. In
fact, Fatimah had said that they saw in their close-circuit
surveillance camera, that some members of the raiding team were
carrying a big black bag, which they suspected contained the
Some legislators are thinking of re-filing the
proposed antiterrorism bill in the coming Thirteenth Congress to add
teeth to the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.
“No way, we will block it and mount another
strong protest,” said Lidasan, vice chairperson and a nominee for
Congress of the Suara Bangsamoro Party list (Voice of Moro people).
The group of Lidasan and other militant
organizations had opposed the passage of controversial antiterrorism
Part 2 |Part
3 |Conclusion |