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Alleged MILF rebels holding 2 Marines in Basilan

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:06:00 06/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Alleged Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels are holding two Marines soldiers hostage as a “bargaining chip” to press for the release of a suspect in the beheading of Marines in Basilan last year, officials said.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said he has tasked Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano to look into the incident.

Corporals Jessie Duatin and Bernie Alcabasa were seized in Makalang village, Al-Barkah town on Tuesday, said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman for the Philippine Navy.

Their battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Vincent Teodoro, sent Duatin and Alcabasa to Al-Barkah to meet with emissaries of MILF commander Long Masud, who had sent surrender feelers, Arevalo told reporters.

“Instead of talking with the two Marines, they were abducted. They were lured into coming so that they can be used as a bargaining chip,” Arevalo said. “They [MILF] are resorting to criminal acts like abduction, kidnapping in order to get what they want.”

Masud demanded the release of his nephew, Salih Dungkal Alih, who was arrested last June 6 over the killing of 14 Marines in Ginanta village, Al-Barkah on July 10, 2007, Arevalo said. Ten of the 14 were beheaded.

“The Navy and the AFP condemns the act of commander Long Masud of resorting to the abduction of two Marines as a bargaining chip to command the release of his arrested nephew,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo said Alih could be released since there are reports that his name was different from the one written on the arrest warrant.

The two Marines’ battalion commander spoke with them by telephone on Wednesday afternoon, Arevalo said.

Arevalo maintained that Alih’s fate was up to the courts and that the military would grant no concessions to the rebels.

He added that the military would file a complaint against the MILF before a joint ceasefire monitoring committee.

Last May 25, a combined force of MILF fighters and Abu Sayyaf bandits attacked Marine positions in nearby Ungkaya Pukan town, leaving two insurgents killed and over a dozen soldiers wounded.

The military filed a complaint before the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), jointly chaired by the government and the MILF, over the incident.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-06-12T03:16:57+00:00UTC06bUTCThu, 12 Jun 2008 03:16:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

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