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CBCP: Senate findings on AFP collusion
with ASG offers 'relief' to Lamitan

MANILA, August 25 – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) welcomed the recommendation by the Senate of a court martial for three military officers found to have colluded with the Abu Sayyaf rebels during the siege of Lamitan town, Basilan in June last year.

"The findings of the Senate concerning the Lamitan issue offer relief to the people of Lamitan, Basilan," CBCP spokesperson Msgr. Hernando M. Coronel said in a statement released to media a day after the Senate released its findings.

The Senate committee on defense, headed by Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. cited circumstantial evidence as the basis for its conclusion that three officers colluded with the Abu Sayyaf troops, resulting in their escape, with hostages, from a hospital in Lamitan even after they had already been reportedly encircled by military troops.  The three were Maj. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, former chief of the 1st Infantry Division; Gen. Jovenal Narcise, former chief of the 103rd Infantry Brigade; and Maj. Eliseo Campued, executive officer of the 18th Infantry Battalion.

The findings were contained in a draft report of the committee, after having conducted hearings on the issue, based on charges initially raised by Lamitan parish priest Fr. Cirilo Nacorda last year.

"The testimonies of the witnesses, encouraged by Fr. Cirilo Nacorda, were not in vain," Msgr. Coronel's statement continued.  "The (Senate) findings are recommendatory in nature to the proper courts, involving the military concerned.  We are not pre-judging the case. We affirm that the pursuit of the criminal group Abu Sayyaf should be without com-promise.  We also take note that a Senate finding concerning this long-standing issue has been arrived at. There were many Senate inquiries before about the burning issue, which were later forgotten and no results were brought out.  The CBCP is after the truth about the matter.  Collusion of the military elements and the pursued enemy is a serious matter."

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Other August 2002 News:

CBCP: Senate findings on AFP collusion with ASG offers 'relief' to Lamitan

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