Manila – A guessing game has broken out in the Philippines over the current location of its two most-wanted fugitives, Indonesian terrorists Dulmatin and Umar Patek. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said on Oct 31 that the two Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militants are now on the loose in Metro Manila.
He said Malacañang received information from the Armed Forces about an intelligence report that the JI men are in the metropolis to possibly launch suicide bombings.
However, the intelligence community has denied that Dulmatin and Patek are now in Metro Manila. A senior military intelligence officer said the intelligence community has not received any information that the two JI men have moved out of their hiding place in Mindanao and have found their way to Metro Manila.
He added that contrary to what Mr Ermita had told the press, intelligence officials are pursuing four members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and not foreign terrorists.
"We have reports about the presence of four ASG, but these are locals and not foreign terrorists. They were sent here to sow terrorism during Undas (the day of the dead)."
He said the two JI men are unlikely to move out of their hideout in Mindanao, since they are much safer there, "under the protection of Janjalani’'s group".
The officer was alluding to the Abu Sayyaf chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani, whose group has bombed several parts of the country with JI's help.
The intelligence officer added that it would be hard for them to hide in the metropolis, because their local affiliates, the Rajah Sulaiman Movement, is still reeling from the recent arrest of its leader Hilarion del Rosario.
* Police say terrorists will hit 10 cemeteries; AFP, Palace signals crossed (The Manila Times, Nov 1)