MILF urged to expel commander protecting bandits
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2013 - 3:33pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines  --- Local leaders in Basilan want the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to remove from its official roster a notorious commander providing sanctuary to wanted leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Local officials are apprehensive the violations by the group of Malista Malanka of the existing government-MILF ceasefire can trigger hostilities with the police and military that can cause massive dislocation of innocent villagers.

Malanka, a senior MILF leader, and his men are operating at the border of Basilan’s adjoining Ungkaya Pukan and Sumisip towns.

Barangay folks have confirmed that Malanka has been allowing the notorious ASG leaders Furudji Indama and Solaiman Olay roam freely in government-recognized guerrilla enclaves covered by the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

The agreement, crafted by GPH and MILF negotiators in Cagayan de Oro City in July of 1997, enjoins the rebel group, the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to mutually cooperate in preventing crimes in flashpoint areas in the south.

The Star tried, but failed to get comment on Malanka’s illegal activities from Major Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer of the government’s Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

The government and MILF’s joint AHJAG is an anti-crime mechanism helping enforce the ceasefire in hostile areas where there are criminal gangs and terrorists.

Barangay officials have complained that Malanka’s group collects regular “protection money” in exchange for their safety.

“We just can’t easily go out and talk about this commander because we’re so vulnerable,” a barangay official said in Filipino.

Sources from the municipal peace and order councils in three adjoining Basilan towns said Malanka’s group was also implicated in no fewer than five kidnappings and some 20 ambush attacks on civilian and military targets from 2009 to early October 2013.

Malanka and his men were also blamed for the May 22, 2013 abduction in Ungkaya Pukan of a government social worker named Jenny Luna.

Luna, according to the local police, was snatched not far from Malanka’s house, while attending to people displaced by an armed conflict that erupted several days before.

The kidnap victim was set free without any ransom through the intercession of local executives and Muslim clerics.

Local officials, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said Malanka also helped ASG bandits perpetrate the October 13 to 14, 2013 attacks at Lamitan City, the capital of Basilan.

City officials said some of the gunmen that repeatedly attempted, but failed to get through Lamitan’s adjoining Barangays Colonia, Bulanting, Kulay Batu, and Maganda due to a strong defense put up by soldiers, policemen and armed villagers, came from Malanka’s lair.
                      
Some of the sources, among them relatives of senior MILF leaders in Basilan, said Malanka and his men also deliberately forestalled the military’s pursuit of an ASG band that attacked patrolling soldiers early this month in Ungkaya Pukan town.
 

ABU SAYYAF GROUP AD-HOC JOINT ACTION GROUP ARMED FORCES AND THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE BARANGAYS COLONIA BASILAN FURUDJI INDAMA AND SOLAIMAN OLAY GENERAL CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES MALANKA UNGKAYA PUKAN
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