Below is the Basilan congressman’s privilege speech in Congress where he emphatically asserts, among others, that the ABU SAYYAF IS NO LONGER IN BASILAN
CONG. WAHAB M. AKBAR
Lone District, Basilan
July 31, 2007
House of Representatives
Mr.Speaker, thanks to the Almighty, the Owner and the Sustainer of the world. I praise Him and I thank Him and I beg for His guidance in order for me to perform my duties and responsibilities as Representative of my people and to abide by the Principles and Policies as Legislator. I would like also to thank my people for the opportunity they have given me by sending me to the 14th Congress through their votes.
Mr. Speaker, Basilan, which I humbly represent has lately been called “THE LAND OF THE ABU SAYYAF, the land of the beheaders, the land of the kidnappers .With firm recognition and due respect to the office of the President, the military organization and the MILF, I do not mean that, through this message, my ability, my opinion and my judgment would be perceived as more preferred over theirs. NO! That is never my intention. I recognize my limitations and my weaknesses. Perhaps I may be wicked than them before the eyes of the Almighty, but then again, this is an issue between me and the Almighty. God forbid and may God forgive me. Mine is just a matter of personal view and opinion as well as concern involving my province, as well as analyses of what would be the repercussion on any action taken without our firm and direct participation and explicit recognition of our ideas in the decision making and integrating the same in solving the ongoing problems of our province. According to Omar Mukhtar in the film “The Lion of the Dessert” and I quote – “After all , nothing can beat the natives except the natives.” – unquote.
My knowledge about Basilan is not based on conjecture and biased speculations, not based on flimsy and ridiculous studies and simulated ground exercises. Neither is it based on results of impartial researches of its customs and traditions. And certainly not based on self-serving analyses of its socio-economic problems, but rather, based on my five (5) senses which I was born with. I know this because I am BASILAN. I say I am Basilan because I was delivered to this world by my beloved mother through the aid of traditional midwifery like the other natives and most natives of which such practice is still adopted up to now in the remotest barangays among the uneducated people and the poor ones.
I say I am it, because I went through every level of their way of living and walks of life. In my early age my family transferred from Lantawan municipality to Maluso municipality at a certain barangay named Gaunan Island, I learned swimming and fishing at the age of six (6) because my family was poor, just like any other ordinary boy there. I had no choice but to learn fishing at that early stage, again, just like the other children in all coastal barangays. When I went to school at the age of Seven (7), I used to report to my classes even without slippers, again, just like them. After reaching the fourth grade I had no choice but to transfer to capital town of Maluso . Initially,I had to pay the motorized bancas every morning when we go to the school and every afternoon when we return. So, to avoid paying the same, I had no recourse but to devote my time during Saturdays and Sundays at that tender age working as a “bangkero” of the motorized bancas. I also had to sell popsicles (Ice Drop) for additional income.
In 1970, when the war started in Mindanao I had no recourse but to join my father as revolutionary at the age of thirteen (13), so at the age of 13, 14, 15, I was already among the revolutionaries involving several encounters facing the military, listening to the deafening sounds of artilleries and canons and the roaring sounds of mortars and bazookas and facing the rain-like bullets of the enemies.
In 1974, my father returned to the folds of the law because of discriminatory practices among the rank and files of the MNLF. And because President Ferdinand Marcos then, sent fillers to convince him to return to the folds of the government.
Throughout my life I was a laborer, I was a driver, I was an operator of heavy equipment, I was a bakery owner, I was a fishpond owner, I was a fish broker, I was a banana broker, I was a cigarette smuggler, I was a coconut harvester, I was a rebel, I was a student of an agricultural school at the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation then. I was an activist against Marcos, we were even imprisoned for forty (40) days at Bicutan, Taguig. I was a student for Islamic Theology in Syria for five (5) years, I was a preacher, I was the deputy commander of the 2nd Mobile Army of MNLF which my commander is the DOLE-ARMM Secretary now based on my recommendation to the Regional Governor of the ARMM.
There were even several months in my life I ate kangkong and cassavas only and several months in my life I ate only porridge with salt and several months in my life I ate cassava with pepper and salts. My wife, the incumbent Governor is my very witness to this fact.
I lived my younger years in Lantawan Municipality, grew-up in Maluso Municipality and matured in Isabela City, I have a lot of uncles and aunties and relatives in Sumisip, because my grandfather used to marry many. My grandfather from my mother side is from Tuburan Municipality that’s why I have many relatives in that area, I used to visit their place. My grandfather from the other side is from Tipo-Tipo that’s why I stayed in Tipo-Tipo for number of years. Therefore my experience is rich. And therefore I say I know Basilan more than anybody else, hence, I am it.
My 5 senses, my bone, my flesh, my blood, my skin, are progeny of Basilan.
Mr. Speaker, the Al-Barka Municipality in which the previous incident occurred, such as the intrusion of the Marines into MILF area despite the ceasefire agreement between the MILF and the government. I say this is intrusion because there was no coordination made to the sitting local government officials prior to their entry into the area. This uncoordinated act on the side of the military is an act of negligence; shows lack of foresight and perhaps may even show lack of PROFESSIONALISM. Had they, perhaps coordinated with us, we could have even appraised them on the actual situation obtaining thereat, which could have even prevented the incident therein.
On the beheading of the 10 Marines, I vehemently state that said act is not only condemnable to the sane people but even condemned plainly and clearly by Qu’ran and Hadith. Let me quote a story of (saidina abubakar) when he sent expedition to Tabuk. He said, in Arabic word “Ya Jaid, la takhquunuw wala tagdiruw wala tagulluw wala tumassiluw wala tagtuluw tiplan aw-imraatan aw-saykhan wala tahriquow nahlan wala taqtau sajaratan. ”Meaning “Oh Jaid, do not betray, do not grab against each other for booty, do not mutilate, do not kill children or women or old folks, do not burn trees and do not cut trees.” So treachery, betrayal, fighting each other over the booty, mutilation, killing of children and women and old folks, burning of trees and cutting of trees are emphasized in Islamic Law. Hence never impute such barbaric act as the act of a Muslim but it is an act of ignorance resulting from the negligence of the government since time immemorial. This is a classic case of the law on Cause and Effect. It is hoped that such negligence be addressed now.
Mr. Speaker, the beheading of the ten (10) Marines was prominently mentioned in the news; however, they conveniently forgot to mention the tying-up of the Imam and mode of killing him by stabbing his neck with a soldier’s bayonet after being shot.
Again the intrusion and transgression of any party either from the Military or MILF after being agreed upon is also an act of ignorance. And this kind of behavior can never be and will never be a catalyst in gaining the hearts and minds of the Muslims. And can not also serve to soften the stands of the military to the part of the Muslim rebel.
The conflict in Mindanao started in 1970-71, when I was at the age of 13 then. It is 2007 now, in other words, spanning already a 37 -year old war, from the MNLF, to the MILF and now, with the Abu Sayyaf as well. The government did not win the war, because they failed to win the minds and hearts of the Muslims. Likewise, the Muslims didn’t win the support and sympathy of the government and various NGO’s in the promotions of the development in their areas, because of their persistence in their non-productive ideology and unadaptable manner of dealing with their personal interests.
Billions and billions of pesos were spent by the government in search for peace, THROUGH WAR! WAR! Mr. Speaker, my distinguished colleagues, through WAR! Through terrible sounds of artilleries, through thunderous sounds of mortars and bazookas, and the unimaginable numbers of bullets from the barrels of machine guns. Lots of damage has been inflicted on both sides, lots of casualties afflicted on both sides, lots of properties destroyed. Numerous women became widows from both sides, numerous children became orphans from both sides, and many civilians either died or suffered injuries. Lots of taxpayers’ money was also spent In short, the collateral damage to the province was huge. YET, THE RESISTANCE AND STUBBORN MENTALITY OF SOME REBELS ARE STILL THERE, and the solutions to peace through WAR HAD BECOME AN EXPENSIVE YET A DISASTROUS MONOTONY.
Billions of pesos were budgeted to military personnel, logistics and ammunitions in order to kill Filipino Muslim rebels, to punish them in the search for peace, but where is PEACE now? IT STILL REMAINS TO BE ELUSIVE.
Meaning, pursuing peace through war cannot be a solution and can never be employed as an effective means to an end.
Had we used this money for development and education instead of using it for killing them? They who are also victims of IGNORANCE and NEGLIGENCE? Had we used this money in order to let the Filipino-Muslims feel that their existence is equally important to the existence of the Christians, that there is no double standard in our society? Perhaps, they would be now productive citizens of the Filipino land, and we would have won their minds and hearts by now.
Intrusion under peace agreement is an act to shoo away the MILF and perhaps the Muslims from coming closer to the folds of the government.
Mr. Speaker, in Lantawan Municipality , 8 barangays could be likened to a “NO MAN’S LAND” due to the presence of the Abu Sayyaf in the area for 8 years before me. Series of kidnapping continued since the attack of Ipil Town . Before this August Body, I would claim that 80% of the Muslims are sympathetic to the Abu Sayyaf. This is what I inherited from my predecessor, the former Deputy Speaker of this House.
It was indeed a big challenge on my part, to be besieged on all fronts by Abu Sayyaf, by poverty, by the false accusations of the military, and my political adversaries.
Thank God and thanks to Malacanang, likewise to the professional military and policemen, thanks to local officials and thanks to all who supported me. And after two terms of my administration my programs were able to win the hearts and minds of most Basileños.
Abu Sayyaf is now nowhere to be found. And I would like to request the media to refrain from mentioning the presence of Abu Sayyaf in my province, for there is no Abu Sayyaf now in my province but there are still Abu Sayyaf-like attitude such as the Lost Command or even worst than abusayyaf such as the beheaders of the 10 Marines. And to stop branding Basilan as the land of the Abu Sayyaf for Abu Sayyaf is no longer to be found in my province, sometimes they just come and go but only a few, but no Abu Sayyaf lair exists.
Now, just into my weeks in Congress, the military are starting to agitate and disturb the province once again by way of sending several battalions I appeal to them that they should realize that their act would cause the people to leave their properties, abandon their plants, destroying their hopes, and the beheaders will just flee away, in due time..
Mr. Speaker, we recognize that the beheaders should be brought to justice but not through this way.
Mr. Speaker, why should they inflict injury above injuries? Why should they use their budget in search for the beheaders through a huge number of soldiers instead of using it in helping me plant more rubbers so that there will be no beheading in the future? Why wouldn’t they cooperate with the local leaders in order to settle the problem by not inflicting more problems?
Mr. Speaker, solving the problem by inflicting more damages on both sides is not solving problem at all, rather aggravating the problem and driving the tamed civilians to become untamed. This policy to me is distraction and not attraction. After all, the MILF did not attack in their camps, did not ambush them on other areas, but it was them who went into the backyards of the MILF.
Mr. Speaker, if they ran after the beheaders, the beheaders will simply hideaway, will flee away and it will be the MILF who will stand on their way and not the beheaders. As a result, it will cause the derailment of the peace process and cause the name of Basilan and perhaps the entire Mindanao or even the country in bad image to be placed in a bad light.
Mr. Speaker, I am not partial to the MILF but I want the MILF not to grow and flourish in my place, and by conducting such operations, said act would just be counter-productive. So, such kind of strategy, if they want peace in Basilan, should not be applied if they are really for peace and the betterment of the province.
Mr. Speaker, I don’t want Basilan to be under the bondage of the MILF Command based in Cotabato but by operating against them won’t decrease their number but rather increase their number and their sympathizers. I am not an analyst from the outside as I’ve stated a while ago, outsiders know nothing about my province.
Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, I appeal for your support to let the military adopt my formula, a formula that would win their minds and their hearts, a formula of a WIN-WIN situation, a formula instead of funding for arms – funding for farms, instead of funding for operation – funding for plantation, instead of funding for bullets – funding for rubber sap. This is what we need in my province in order to free them from the bondage of incorrect ideology, from the bondage of loving their arms more than their wives.
Mr. Speaker, this government should think that Basilan is part of the Philippines . If Basilan feels pain or experience tumults, other parts of the country get involved like what is happening now. So Mr. Speaker, if Cong. Akbar feels pain, I hope the August Body feels the same pain too.
Again, I am always accused as member and founder of Abu Sayyaf, but because I used my senses positively, this accusation is a ploy of the Saytan (Satan) in order to stop me from getting involved and participate for the interest of Basilan and of the nation. After being Governor for 3 consecutive terms, I am now here in the House of Representatives and having the right time and privilege to say whoever accused me fall under the wings of Saytan (Satan).
I therefore conclude that the military interest for peace in Basilan pales in comparison to our interest, we being the most involved, and the most to suffer.
Mr. Speaker, when I joined politics, there were accusations that I was the founder of the bullshit Abu Sayyaf. Nung buhay pa sila, problema ko na, hanggang sa patay na sila problema ko pa rin. This accusation is from time to time repeatedly mentioned by the media. I’m constantly under attack by some columnist especially Ramon Tulfo, I become his pet peeve. My name is always tagged by this and that, such and such. Are they being paid by my detractors? Or they want to attack me because of personal reason? On the advantageous side, I am very grateful to them because they are making my name remembered by the people even if I didn’t pay them. However, they are misleading the people of my personality if I don’t respond to them. It only doesn’t affect me as a person, but if affects my position as Representative.
Mr. Speaker, In the light of the things that have just been propounded here by this humble representation, I am formally calling and seeking out your support along with the members of this August Body that this representation, together with the concerted efforts of all local government officials of the province of Basilan be allowed to spearhead the movement, and the corresponding course of action to ultimately address this issue, and using all government resources to run after the beheaders who committed this dastardly act. To pursue the imminent military operations as the hasty solution would add ignominy to the situation. Mr. Speaker, let’s give Peace all chances that it needs if only to ensure the welfare of our children, and the children yet to come in my province. Lastly whatever wisdom I have delivered it’s from the blessings of the Almighty. On the other hand, whatever unfavorable thoughts that I may have said, it’s only personal to me.
Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, thank you very much.