Killed RP Lawmaker Buried In Hometown

November 14, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

A family waits outside their house adored with posters of Rep. Wajhab Akbar and his two wife, Jum Akbar, left, governor of Basilan and Cherry Lyn, right, mayor of Isabela City, for the hearse of slain Filipino Muslim lawmaker Wahab Akbar Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007 in Basilan province in southern Philippines. Akbar, a former rebel Moro National Liberation Front leader, was killed after a powerful bomb exploded at the south entrance of the House of Representatives in the Philippine capital late Tuesday. The bombing also killed a chauffeur and wounded two other lawmakers and six employees, police said.

(Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)



BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 14, 2007) – A Muslim lawmaker who was killed in a Philippine bombing was buried Wednesday in his hometown in Basilan island, south of Manila.

Thousands of supporters chanted “Allahu Akbar…Allahu Akbar” as Akbar’s hearse was paraded around Isabela City. Many who lined up the streets were weeping and crying out his name.

Akbar, a former rebel Moro National Liberation Front leader, was killed after a powerful bomb exploded at the south entrance of the House of Representatives in the Philippine capital late Tuesday.

“We loved him so much. He was such a good man and he helped many poor people here. There is nobody who can take his place. May Allah curse whoever had killed him,” said Nasser Amdam, 43.

The bombing also killed a chauffeur and wounded two other lawmakers Henry Teves and Luzviminda Ilagan.

Akbar died at the Far Eastern University hospital where doctors tried to save his life – his skull was fractured from the blast that his supporters and families believed was an assassination.

“It was an assassination. We have lost a great leader, who unified Christians and Muslims in Basilan,” his spokesman Chris Puno told reporters without elaborating.

Puno said the Akbar’s families wanted a thorough investigation into the blast.

“We condemned in the strongest possible term this criminal and dastardly act,” said House Speaker Jose de Venecia.

Gov. Sakur Tan, of Sulu province, rushed to Basilan with his wife, Nurunisah Tan, after learning about Akbar’s death. “We condemned this senseless killing of Rep. Wahab Akbar,” he said.

At least 8 people were wounded in the bombing that destroyed the south-wing ceiling of the building. It was unclear how the explosion occurred, but witnesses said they smelled gunpowder in the area.

Reports were conflicting and others said the explosion emanated from a car parked at the House of Representatives while some claimed the blast was from a bomb planted inside the building.

Forensic experts and post-blast investigators said they found a wrecked motorcycle probably rigged with explosives and detonated remotely.

Akbar joined the MNLF at the age of 14 in 1974. His father, Mutammad Salajin, was also a rebel commander. In 1994, Akbar went to Syria where he studied Islamic theology and jurisprudence and stayed in the Middle East for about six years.

He returned to Basilan island in 1997 where he preached Islam and was eventually persuaded by his students to run for governor on the island. Akbar won in the elections in 1998 and had served for nine years.

Akbar supported then Vice President Gloria Arroyo after President Joseph Estrada was deposed in 2001 after a bloodless coup. He was also responsible in Arroyo’s landslide victory in Basilan in 2004 and so were senators under her.

He also helped a former town mayor Zaldy Ampatuan win in Basilan in elections in the Muslim autonomous region.

The slain lawmaker had four wives, Jum Akbar, now governor of Basilan island and Cherry Lyn, the mayor of Isabela and Marieta Zamoranos and Nur-in. Akbar had 7 children from three if wives. Others said he had as many as 13 wives.

Akbar was repeatedly linked by the military and his opponents to the Abu Sayyaf, which is tied to al-Qaeda terror network. He was said to have organized the Abu Sayyaf, but broke away after Abubakar Abdurajak Janjalani, a militant preacher, was chosen to lead the Al-Harakatul Al-Islamiya.

Abu Sayyaf was originally called Al-Harakatul Al-Islamiya, Arabic name which means “bearer of the sword.” Janjalani was killed in 1989 after a firefight with policemen in Basilan island.

His younger brother, Khadaffy Janjalani, took over, but was also slain in Sulu island in 2006 after a clash with army special forces.

Akbar had repeatedly denied his links with the Abu Sayyaf. He was also implicated in the beheading of 14 soldiers in Basilan early this year.

There was no truth to all those things. Wahab Akbar was never an Abu Sayyaf, not even its founder. Those were all lies. Wahab Akbar destroyed the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan,” Puno said.

Akbar seized Janjalani’s and son and several relatives after the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped more than 50 people in Basilan to force the group to free the hostages.

He was also instrumental in the release of two Belgian citizens – a journalist and an agrarian expert – after they were kidnapped in Zamboanga City and brought to Basilan in the 1990s.

During his stint as governor, Akbar had aggressively pursued agrarian reform in Basilan and the putting up of farmers’ and fishermen’s cooperatives in different towns and provided thousands of villagers with sustainable livelihood.

“Now that he is dead, the Abu Sayyaf may be back soon in Basilan. We are now like a house with all doors and windows open and waiting for wolves to attack us,” Puno said.

Akbar’s wives did not give any statement. (Mindanao Examiner)


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