In a nut shell: Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on a two-day trip to Manila made at least six weeks prior, had disclosed to president Ramos her knowledge of the existence of terrorist training facilities, where "guerrilla warfare" was being taught to an international cadre of Muslim Jihadists, in which certain Filipino Muslims under the rubric of the "Abu Sayyaf" had been, and continued to be trained, "in batches," with "many" of these finished "Abu Sayyaf members"..."already returned to Mindanao," which Ramos viewed as the explanation for a noticeable "upsurge of their terrorist activities there."
Bhutto had supposedly told Ramos that these training camps for "international terrorists" were happening just over her country's border in Afghanistan, and that Pakistan itself had been victimized by these camp graduates--"whatever be their nationality," as President Ramos puts it. But by some misunderstanding, or illogic, Ramos came away from his meetings with Bhutto believing that the activity she described was taking place in "underground camps in Pakistan" itself, which was what he then, apparently, sourced to the press.
Furthermore, President Ramos subsequently backtracks on the existence of finished graduates from the batch-job being done on selected Filipino Muslims, now saying Abu Sayyaf members could "possibly" have returned after training, although this would mean his remarked-upon "upsurges" in terrorist activity in Mindanao were simply coincidental.
Directly over this notice on page three of the April 18 edition of the Manila Standard is this article by Rudy Saavedra:
Which this front-page headline led into:
Whenever I try to visualize the goings-on in an Afghani terrorist training camp, (Hazing rituals in the beginning? A medallion ceremony at graduation?) I get stuck at that scene in Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, where a sequence of be-turbaned trainees develop their agility by hand-walking across an elevated Jungle-Gym, but with this Rudy Saavedra report I'm finding new images presenting themselves--like a development of mercilessness exercise that evokes the Dr. Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle's enunciation scene from My Fair Lady:
Mercy! Please have mercy! I beg you!
No! [Hands over ears.] I can't hear you! La...la...la...la
"Maawa kayo sa amin. Huwag ninyo kaming patayin!"
Very good. Cut. Next...
Diigo, April 18, 1995, The Manila Standard, page 3, Abu Sayyaf men execute 14 hostages, by Rudy Saavedra,
Abu Sayyaf guerillas brutally killed 14 of their civilian hostages on Friday in an island off Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur as the captives begged for their lives, a critically wounded hostage who miraculously survived the carnage told reporters here.. Restituto Segundino, 24, who was snatched April 6 by fleeing Muslim bandits that pillaged Ipil yown two weeks ago, told newsmen from his hospital bed that his fellow hostages were hacked to death by their captors after telling them "we'll set you free."
Segundino, a farmer, sustained 13 hack wounds from his neck down to his buttocks was rescued by pursuing troops of the Army's 9th Special Forces from among a pile of six other slain hostages. "I was left for dead by the bandits," he told reporters at the AFP Southern Command hospital here. He said he was lucky to survive the carnage and thanked the soldiers who rescued him.
The lone survivor said the bandits ferried them (hostages) to Pina Island, off the town of Tungawan on Friday night and executed them the following day.
"Maawa kayo sa amin. Huwag ninyo kaming patayin," Segundino quoted some of his fellow hostages pleading minutes before they were savagely killed. Military officers led by Armed Forces Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Edgardo Batenga showed to newsmen a bladed weapon locally known as barong similar yo what was used by the bandits in the massacre.
Government troops recovered on Sunday morning six of the slain hostages in an advance state of decomposition and ferried the bodies to this city on board two Air Force Huey helicopters.
Earlier, the bandit group killed six of their captives as government troops backed up by helicopter gunships closed in on them at barangay Sto. Roserio, R.T. Lim, Zamboanga del Sur last April 7.
"They (Abu Sayyaf) have already killed 12 hostages," Batenga told reporters after the recovery of six more bodies on Sunday. He added the terrorist group is holding six more civilian hostages. But hopes to recover them alive dimmed yesterday after Saturnino claimed the bandits executed mercilessly the remaining hostages.
"This is how savage they (Abu Sayyaf) are. I could not see any motive why they have to kill their innocent and helpless hostages," Batenga said. Earlier the military said the captives were being used as human shields by the terrorists as they fled to the mountains to elude pursuing government troops.
Of the six bodies recovered on Sunday, only one was identidied as that of Victorino Aballe, village chief ofTiayon, Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur while the five others remain unidentified.
The bodies of the six slain hostages were badly mutilated with one victim decapitated. The terrorists earlier killed Patricio Gregorio of Barangay Maasin, Ipil; Ernesto Arances of Barangay Dona Josefa, Ipil; Ernesto Revantad also of Barangay Maasin; Romulo Assister who was hacked to death on April 7; Timoteo Batoto, 51, who was killed on April 10, five days after he was abducted at Barangay Candis, R.T. Limtown and Anna maria Dequilla, 18.
Thirty-two other hostages were able to escape their captors amidst the exchange of gunfire between pursuing soldiers and the terrorists.
Also on Sunday, two helicopter gunships pounded Pina Island with rockets and machinegun fire killing six of the over 100 bandits that were able to slip through a military cordon at Tungawan mainland.
In the afternoon of the same day, two more terrorists on board motorized outriggers were slain after a brief gunbattle with Marine troopers off Sacol island, east of this city, military reports disclosed.
Batenga said that the military has accounted for 42 terrorists killed in a series of gunbattles and airstrikes launched by Southern Command after the Abu Sayyaf guerillas raided and looted the Christian-dominated town of Ipil last April 4 which left 53 people dead.
Batenga also claimed that government troops captured another suspected member of the terrorist group in Tungawan on Good Friday, bringing to five the number of captured bandits under military custody now.
Basug was picked up by military intelligence operatives in Tungawan on suspicion he is "a sympathizer/follower of the Abu Sayyaf." Batenga confirmed the arrest of Basug and said the military is trying to ascertain his participation in the Ipil attack.
But Basug's wife Vilma, told reporters here that her husband is not a Muslim extremist but a candidate for councilor in the municipality of Tungawan running under the KBL-PMP ticket. She said she will press the military to free her husband through the Commission on Human Rights.