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Political rivalry eyed in Basilan bomb attack

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The roadside bombing that hit the convoy of Isabela City Vice Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon last Thursday was directly related to a brewing political squabble in Basilan, a security official bared yesterday.

The official, who asked not to be named, said those who carried out the bombing were not from Basilan but from the Zamboanga Peninsula, who were hired specifically to scare Ajibon and discourage him from pushing through with his plan to run as mayor of Isabela.

“Yes, the bombing was indeed politically motivated,” the source said.

The source revealed the bombing was carried out by professionals to make it appear it was the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf.

He described last Thursday’s bombing attack that left four of Ajibon’s security aides dead as retaliatory and preemptive in nature, following a failed assassination plot against a prominent political figure in the province.

“Assassination plot against this political figure in the province was supposed to be carried out in Zamboanga during the city’s festival last month. Plot, however, fizzled out after the target failed to show up,” the source said.

Sources revealed the political personality was Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Akbar.

When asked what the motive behind the assassination plot was, the source said that once the ‘intended” target is killed, it would have a devastating effect on the current political landscape in the island province.

He added the plot to finish off Akbar did not end there, as the group once again plotted to kill her while traveling to Zamboanga City from Basilan aboard a passenger vessel.

Again, the plot failed but it reached the attention of their intended victim who, in return, hired a group to launch a preemptive strike against the would-be attackers.

Ajibon believed that it was the same group that made an attempt on his life when he declared he would be running for the mayoralty post in next year’s elections, but did not give specifics.

Ajibon said the incident would not deter his plan to run for mayor next year.

He will be running against Jum Akbar, the incumbent governor of Basilan.

Gov. Akbar is one of four widows of the late Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar.

The incumbent city mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar is also the late congressman’s widow. She will run for vice mayor of Isabela City next year in tandem with the governor, since she is now on her third and last term as mayor.

Gov. Akbar is also on her last term.

Police, on the other hand, are facing a blank wall in identifying the suspects in last Thursday’s bombing attack against Ajibon.

Chief Supt. Jonathan Miano, head of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Operations, admitted they have not yet established the motive nor identified the suspects in the bomb attack that killed and injured the aides of Ajibon.

Miano said the Isabela City police are still investigating the incident and he has yet to receive the official result of their investigation.

“I don’t want to speculate on the investigation as it is still ongoing. We expect to receive their report anytime soon. But I assure you that one of the things we want to establish is whether the bomb attack is election related or not,” Miano said.

The military also could not say if the roadside bombing in Basilan was politically motivated or related to the upcoming elections. – Non Alquitran, Roel Pareño, Alexis Romero, John Unson

 

ABU SAYYAF

ACIRC

AJIBON

AKBAR

ALEXIS ROMERO

BASILAN

BASILAN REP

BOMBING

BUT I

CHERRYLYN SANTOS-AKBAR

ISABELA CITY

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