Press Release
August 5, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged military authorities to present credible proof that Jemaah Islamiyah operatives from Indonesia are operating in Sulu that have prompted them to launch another offensive there.

Pimentel expressed concern that the alleged presence of JI operatives in the island-province is just a ploy to justify continued warfare in Mindanao.

It is their job to show the people there is basis for their saying there is a Jemaah Islamiyah cell in Sulu. In the absence of that, they cannot expect us to support the ongoing hostilities in Sulu, he said.

Pimentel said knowledgeable sources have informed him that there are no JI agents in Mindanao.

Nobody says they gave any Al Qaeda or JI agents training anybody in Muslim areas of Mindanao. I am apprehensive there may be some ploy behind the alleged presence of the JI to widen the war and lay the basis for the continued warfare in Mindanao. And I think if the US authorities say there are JI from Indonesia, they should produce evidence for that, he said.

Such information is contrary to the claim of a military official that Indonesian terrorists Omar Patek and Dulmatin are allegedly moving in the company of Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.

Pimentel said he was disturbed over reports that some 500 families have fled their homes in Indanan, Sulu as the government troops carry out operations against terrorists using artillery. And yet he said Ustadz Habier Malik, a high-ranking leader of the Moro National Liberation Front denied claimed that what occurred was a clash between government soldiers and MNLF fighters, and there were no Abu Sayyaf terrorists involved.

I am concerned about hostilities in Sulu that it has displaced so many unarmed citizens, non-combatants from their homes and farms because that makes for instability in that part of the country, Pimentel said.

And therefore my point is if there is JI cell there, they should come out openly and tell us who, what and where they are so thing will clear up.

Pimentel also cautioned anew the American military not to get involved in combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups on Mindanao.

My view has always been that the US is welcome to this country to help promote peace, not to wage war, the senator from Mindanao said. And therefore I do not approve of any military action on the part of the US in any part of the country because we are supposed to be a sovereign nation.

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