DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Partylist lawmaker Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna condemned the killing of a local coordinator in Basilan yesterday who was tagged as an Abu Sayyaf leader.
In a statement Thursday, Zarate said Hadji Billamin Hassan, also known as Hadji Ben, has just finished praying when “soldiers in plain clothes” arrested him in Tabuan Lasa town in Basilan province.
“He was brought by the naval troops to the Western Mindanao Command. Somewhere along the way, he was shot and killed,” Zarate said.
Moro leader Amirah Lidasan, national chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro said, she would not have confirmed Hassan’s death if not for a news report on television. Lidasan has worked with Hassan in various campaign for human rights.
“Had it not been for the phone interview of TVP Chavacano this afternoon, I would not have confirmed the death of Hadji Ben and the injustice that the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command has done to him and his family,” Lidasan said in her Facebook post on Wednesday.
“According to the news, the military was serving a warrant for cases of arson against Hadji Ben resulting to a firefight. He was identified as an Abu Sayyaf leader. It was not clear whether he died during the firefight or while traveling to the WestMinCom,” said Lidasan.
“But one thing is clear to us, Hadji Ben is not an Abu Sayyaf leader that the WestMinCom presented him to be. I thought that the WestMinCom under the Duterte administration will not resort to the usual parading of terror suspects for the benefit of their masters,” Lidasan said.
Zarate said they will seek a probe on Ben’s killing which could be related to his exposition of the Army’s role in kidnap for ransom cases in 2001.
“It seems that his name is being linked to the Abu Sayyaf due to his role in exposing the AFP-ASG collusion on kidnap for ransom cases in 2001,” Zarate said.
Lidasan added that Hassan “encouraged individuals and families who were victims of the military crackdown to present their cases in the series of congressional and senate investigations in 2002.”
She said the Army should identify him “based on his last involvement.”
“He was a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Basilan, serving as one of the board member or officer of the Bangsamoro Develoment Agency (BDA). He was also involved in keeping the peace between the AFP and MILF in Basilan,” she said.
Zarate also said the victim ran for mayor in Tabuan Lasa in 2004 and has been a member of Bayan Muna since 2001.
“He lost, but he had proof of massive cheating in his area that he presented to the Kontra Daya meeting and press conference in Manila,” he said.(davaotoday.com)