Skip to comments.'Executioner' in Sayyaf beheading video surfaces
Posted on 02/21/2002 5:16:59 PM PST by Ranger
THE MEN shown on national television beheading soldiers captured by Moro armed men appeared to be neither Abu Sayyaf bandits nor members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
They were captives who were forced by Abu Sayyaf bandits to decapitate the soldiers.
But the government insists that the perpetrators were Abu Sayyaf bandits while the political opposition, including ousted President Joseph Estrada, maintains that those responsible were MILF members.
A certain Fred of Basilan admitted to GMA 7 that he was one of the two men who were captured on video beheading Abu Sayyaf captives. He said his fellow captive had lost his mind because of the incident.
But Fred later told the INQUIRER that the GMA 7 reporter could have misunderstood him, as he could only understand Chavacano and not Tagalog, the language used by the reporter.
"I'm disturbed because my relatives saw me on TV that I was the one who beheaded the soldier and that I was an Abu Sayyaf bandit. Those are not true," he said in Chavacano.
But he admitted that the Abu Sayyaf had captured him.
He recounted that on Nov. 19, 1994 he and four other men went to Barangay Tablon in Sumisip town to survey a property upon the instructions of a certain Arturo Ortesido.
Fred recalled that while he, Jesus Bonifacio, Nelson Abellana, Danny Dabat and Jun Davines were setting up their surveying equipment, a group of armed men kidnapped them and brought them to Abu Sayyaf leader Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani.
They were freed in Patikul, Sulu on the first week of March 1995.
"It was a nightmare," Fred said of his captivity. His hands were shaking as he recalled his time with the bandits.
Fred said his life became miserable after the video footage of the beheading was shown on national television. He said the airing of his interview with the GMA 7 on Wednesday night added more to his misery.
"I lost my job as laborer because I fear the military," Fred said.
But Press Undersecretary Roberto Capco said the showing of the beheadings would serve as "closure" to the former hostage who claimed he was forced to decapitate his fellow captives.
"Regardless of who actually did it, only shows the brutality of the Abu Sayyaf," Capco said.
A female relative of one of the two former hostages questioned why the government decided to show the footage in public.
She said her kin, who had already reported his ordeal to the military, was again placed in danger after the video footage was shown in public. She noted that the former hostages had been living in peace before the footage was sown.
Justice Secretary Hernando Perez plans to file murder charges against a man, who is either a captured Abu Sayyaf member or a hostage, who told television interviewers he had been forced to behead several hostages.
Perez said "it is tantamount to murder even if the person was forced to do it," but added his culpability may be mitigated by owning up to the deed.
Perez said it is also possible that there are aggravating circumstances and that could place the suspect in more serious trouble.
At the House, the minority bloc sought a congressional inquiry into the public showing of the controversial two-hour video footage of Abu Sayyaf bandits beheading their captives.
House Assistant Minority Leader Gilbert Remulla of Cavite said the 19-member opposition group will file a joint resolution seeking to know the real reason why the gory footage was made available to the media.
The opposition lawmakers suspect the release to the media was part of Malacañang's continuing effort to justify the involvement of American troops in combat operations against the bandits.
Remulla said the inquiry would focus, however, on the formulation of a bill that would set clearer parameters of future joint military exercises between the Philippines and other countries.
A church-based human-rights organization urged government to focus on the alleged collusion of the military with the Abu Sayyaf instead of resorting to "cheap, dirty tactics of showing gruesome video footage" of the Abu Sayyaf beheading a victim to gain support for the Balikatan.
Dani Beltran, secretary-general of the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace, said government agencies tasked to investigate the alleged collusion of the Abu Sayyaf and the military should immediately release their findings.
"Dirty smart-alecks in the government should stop creating foolish schemes to appeal to people's hostility toward Abu Sayyaf bandits. What we want to see is not the gory footage of the Abu Sayyaf's terror trademark but the result of the government's investigation on the alleged collusion between the Abu Sayyaf and military," said Beltran.
Party-list Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan, chairman of the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights, demanded the Palace withdraw the video immediately with an apology, especially to the beheaded victims' families for using their taped painful experience to rationalize controversial policies.
Rosales said the Palace apparently wanted to use the film solely for fomenting hatred against the Abu Sayyaf and correspondingly justify the presence of American soldiers and their possible combat with the bandit group.
"I am appalled by Malacañang's insensitivity to the basic right of every Filipino to be treated with dignity as a human being and to be guaranteed full respect for his human rights," said Rosales.
She said continued showing of the footage is a "gross violation" of the rights of millions of viewers, whose ages range from 2 to 82. "It is sheer hypocrisy to say that the people have a right to know the truth in that way."
Describing the pubic release of the footage as "reckless and disturbing," Remulla said there is an "overwhelming suspicion that the video footage was made public to justify Malacañang's submission to pressure by Washington."
Remulla said the still-unanswered question on whether the armed men caught on video beheading two men were members of the Abu Sayyaf or Moro Islamic Liberation Front should not eclipse the real issue, which is the administration's act of desperation to justify the presence of American troops in Basilan.
Even granting that those caught on video were Abu Sayyaf, making the gruesome footage public was "highly irresponsible since it accentuated the agenda of the bandit group, which is to sow terror not only in the country but in other places as well," Remulla said.
Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said the opposition claim that the same tape was shown to Catholic bishops to justify intensified operations against the MILF could only mean one thing: The previous administration lied.
He added, "Who would you believe? People who saw the films or the military who actually captured the film?... There is no confusion. That was really the Abu Sayyaf."
He said the administration's contention was supported by the statement of one of those who actually did the beheading, who claimed he was an Abu Sayyaf hostage forced by his abductors to do it. "If it is true, it emphasizes the brutality of the Abu Sayyaf to have somebody else undertake such a dastardly deed."
But he doubted whether all of those who did the beheadings were hostages, as there was one who had a gun. With E. Torres, M. Gonzalez, J. Cadacio, K. Tiongson //
Initial reports revealed that he was decapitated while talking to the camera but now the details have been toned down.
Oh sure, I am hearing all sorts of gruesome details about Andrea Yates' murder of her kids but the act that was directed at all of us (and that foreign travelling Americans could be subjected to) gets downplayed.