By DAVID SANTOS
ABS-CBN Regional Network Group
ISABELA CITY - Despite a DNA test carried out by the US government confirming the death of Abu Sayyaf Group chief Khadaffy Janjalani, his family remains doubtful of the exam's results and insists that the bandit leader is still alive.
Abubakar Janjalani, Khadaffy's aging and ailing father, refused to comment on the latest development shrouding the death of his youngest son.
Khadaffy's elder sister, who goes under the pseudonym Jennifer Montaño for security reasons, told an ABS-CBN newsteam that it was her father's gut instinct that led him to doubt results of the DNA tests.
"Hindi naniniwala ang tatay ko sa mga DNA test na 'yan. Para sa kanya, buhay pa rin si Khadaffy (My father doesn't believe those DNA tests. For him, Khadaffy is still alive)," Montaño said in an interview at the Janjalani home in Barangay Tabuk Sunday morning.
Montaño said Hector, Khadaffy's older brother who is in prison, told ABS-CBN recently that he refused to undergo DNA testing. "Now they're saying that it was Hector's DNA samples that were used to compare with the DNA taken from the corpse dug up by soldiers in Sulu," she added.
Days after Khadaffy's remains were exhumed in Patikul, Sulu, a military officer paid Abubakar a visit in his Basilan home and asked for his blood samples. The elder Janjalani turned down the request even after being told to name a price in exchange for the favor.
Montaño said she received a text message Sunday morning from a Philippine Army source who said that the results of the DNA testing were not yet final. She did not identify her alleged military source.
She also claimed that Khadaffy called a cousin via cell phone in September or October last year but could not recall exact details.
An AFP spokesman earlier said Khadaffy was killed in an encounter in Sulu on September 4, about a month after the military launched an offensive there.
"Nakakalito naman itong mga pronouncements ng AFP. Basta dito sa amin, walang sinuman ang naniniwala na patay na si Khadaffy (These pronouncements from the AFP are confusing. Here in our area, no one believes that Khadaffy is dead)," Montaño said.
Life goes on
Abubakar, 72, who is presently afflicted with severe asthma with complications to the heart and kidney, prefers to pray at a Mosque (place of worship) near their home rather than speak to the media.
"Lumalala lang ang sakit ng tatay ko kung nakakarinig siya ng mga balita tungkol kay Khadaffy. Palaging umiinit ang ulo niya sa mga bali-balita (My father gets sicker everytime he hears news about Khadaffy. He gets angry about these reports)," Montano explains.
On the other hand, Vilma, the 62-year-old matriarch of the Janjalanis, remained reserved while attending to her small, make-shift store located just in front of the Mosque. Vilma sells candies and other snacks to children attending the weekend Madrasah or Arabic classes.
While she evaded answering questions about Khadaffy, she did not hesitate to elaborate on how life has become hard up for the family since her sons were hunted by the government for their links to terrorism.
Her husband, who is practically bed-ridden, depends mostly on his monthly pension for his medical expenses. According to Vilma, the P400-P600 income she earns from tending the store every weekend, is often allocated for their spending throughout the week. Often, the Janjalani couple have to resort to consumer credit for their expenditures.
When they run out of cash, Vilma said they turn to herbal medicine for Abubakar's treatment. "Kahit ano lang mapupulot sa daan, 'yun na lang iniinom ng asawa ko (Whatever we pick up from the streets, that's what my husband drinks)," said Vilma, an Ilongga Catholic who converted to Islam during marriage.
"Akala ng mga tao, napakayaman na namin dahil daw sa mga ransom na nakuha ng Abu Sayyaf. Pero hindi totoo yun kasi naghihirap ang mga magulang namin (A lot of people think that we got rich because of all the ransom that the Abu Sayyaf got. That's not true because our parents are suffering," Montaño said.
Dealing with death in the Janjalani family
In 1998, Abdurajak Janjalani, the eldest of the Janjalani siblings and the founder of the Abu Sayyaf Group, was killed in a firefight with the police in Basilan.
The Janjalanis immediately buried his cadaver after claiming it from the Philippine National Police.
Under Islamic practice, a corpse is washed thoroughly, covered with white linen and is prayed over before it is buried less than 24 hours after the person died.
In Abdurajak's case, Montaño said the Abu Sayyaf founder did not have to go through the same process since he is considered a Mujahideen or holy warrior.
She said the same may apply in Khadaffy's case if he is indeed dead. She added that there will be no 40-day prayer commonly practiced by Filipino Muslims, since this practice do not necessarily conform to Islamic teachings.
"Hahayaan na lang namin sila kung saan sila mamamatay. Yan ang paniwala naming sa mga Mujahideen (We will leave them where they died. That is our belief about the Mujahideen)," she said.
She added that the family would rather have the public believe that Khadaffy is dead "so that all search efforts for him will end" and that everybody will have to leave him and their family in peace.