Terrorists Again Plotting To Bomb Manila: MilitaryFebruary 22, 2008 at 2:52 pm | Posted in 1 | 1 Comment
MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 22, 2008) – The Philippine military on Friday warned that terrorists may launch a series of attacks in Manila in retaliation to the killing of a Jemaah Islamiya bomber in the country’s troubled south.
Army Major General Fernando Mesa said the Indonesian terror group is plotting to bomb key areas in Manila. Radio and television reports quoted the general as saying that the report was part of a military intelligence he received.
“Citing information reaching him, Mesa said the JI’s targets in Metro Manila include the United States Embassy and other foreign embassies, the Light and Metro Rail Transit systems, oil depots, bus terminals, shopping malls, piers, airports and other soft targets,” according to a report by GMA television.
Southern Philippines military officials had said that soldiers recovered the body of man thought to be Dulmatin on a remote village in Tawi-Tawi province last week.
But DNA test by the Philippine National Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is yet to confirm whether the body was really that of Dulmatin, one of those who masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, 25 Britons and seven US citizens.
Filipino security officials had also said that Dulmatin was killed in previous government offensives in the southern Philippines.
Indonesian police said Dulmatin, half-Javanese and half-Arabic, was the man who mixed and assembled the 500kg bomb that destroyed the Sari Club during the Bali attack.
Dulmatin’s assassination would be the biggest breakthrough in the hunt for the remaining Bali bombers the past years. Another Bali bomber, Umar Patek, is believed hiding in Sulu or Tawi-Tawi province under the protection of the local Abu Sayyaf group.
Dr Sidney Jones, of the International Crisis Group, said Dulmatin is still probably alive. “We are pretty sure that Dulmatin is not dead, despite the fact that the Philippine military announced about eight times that he is.”
“I think that we would have heard from other sources if Dulmatin had in fact been seriously wounded or killed. He was wounded at one stage, but there’s no other reporting coming in from people in Indonesia. I just think we would have heard more if the body that they uncovered is really his,” Jones said.
The Philippine military warning came ahead of a huge anti-Arroyo rally in Manila.
Just earlier this month, Philippine authorities claimed to have uncovered a plot by the Jemaah Islamiya, the Abu Sayyaf, the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to assassinate Arroyo. The announcement also came out days before a huge rally by members of the civil society groups calling for Arroyo’s resignation.
The MILF strongly criticized the military for linking the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, to the assassination plot.
Militant groups fear the military may use soldiers to bomb targets in Manila and then blame the attacks on Jemaah Islamiya, the Abu Sayyaf or the NPA and MILF that would justify Arroyo to impose martial law or a state of emergency and crack down on anti-government protesters.
Arroyo’s government has been rocked by corruption scandals and the President is hounded with accusations that she cheated in the elections to keep herself and allies in power against a popular movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., who died while campaigning.
Poe’s supporters and opposition politicians and civil groups accused Arroyo of electoral fraud in 2004 after an alleged military wiretapped conversation between her and an election commissioner that linked them to cheating surfaced.
Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives are also pushing to amend the Constitution to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary or federalism and eventually prolong her into power beyond 2010.
Under the presidential form of government, Arroyo, who deposed President Joseph Estrada in a people power revolution in 2001, is allowed only one six-year term.
In the charter change proposal suggested by her political allies who dominate Congress, she can be elected as prime minister should Congress approve a proposal to dissolve the Senate and change the system of government to parliamentary. (Mindanao Examiner)