THE bodies of Albader Parad and his five men were buried Monday in line with the Muslim tradition that their dead should be laid to rest 24 hours after their death.

“After proper identification and in the observance of the Islamic rites, the bodies of the six dead members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group, four were buried by sundown of February 21 in Sulu,” said Navy spokesman Edgard Arevalo.

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Parad and his men died following a daring clash with assaulting Marine soldiers in Maimbung town early last Sunday. A Marine soldier died and three other Marine troops were wounded in the operation.

The five other Abu Sayyaf bandits who died are Hamilton Sadjail, Omar Umbah, Oding Esirael, Simal Abtong, and Abdulhan Jumdail.

“It is end of the road for the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group leader Albader Parad. After figuring in many high-profile kidnap for ransom cases, the most daring and loathsome was the one perpetrated against the three workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross snatched just beside the Sulu Capitol, Parad was killed after he and his group engaged the elite members of the Philippine Marine Corps in a fierce firefight 7 a.m. Sunday,” said Arevalo.

The clash also led to recovery of high-powered firearms like a Belgian-made Light Machine Gun, a Squad Assault Weapon (SAW), a Galil Rifle and an M-16 rifle -- each of the last two fitted with M203 grenade launcher.

Aside from four pairs of military uniform and combat boots, military load-bearing equipment, cellular phones with complete accessories, an Indonesian rupiah (worth 100), and other personal effects, documents of significant importance were also recovered, said Arevalo.

“The people of Sulu, including local leaders, claim the recent neutralization of the Albader Parad and his cohort as a major victory for peace. The Philippine Navy deems this development as a breakthrough in so far as our reinvigorated approach to the terrorist problem in Sulu is concerned,” said Arevalo.

“The operation is particularly peculiar as there were no evacuation of civilians, no dislocation of their daily activities, and the precise conduct of the operation owing to the support and cooperation of the civilians who volunteered vital information,” he added.

The military official described the operation “a military success in so far as the two-pronged approach of the Fleet-Marine Team to lasting solution of the Abu Sayyaf menace is concerned. We are applying the Total Approach Concept wherein we conduct combat operations side-by-side with socio-humanistic and development endeavors. It is apparently working, thus we are inclined to sustain it.”

Arevalo said that since 1992 when the Abu Sayyaf Group had a debut in kidnapping of a four-year-old Luis Anthony Biel and his grandfather in Basilan to date, many of its members and top leaders have been neutralized – lives of soldiers and civilians lost in the crossfire notwithstanding.

“The problem persisted and managed to spread in Sulu. A Total Approach Concept where the root causes of terrorism will be addressed not only militarily but by government inter-agency cooperation is necessary,” added Arevalo.

Expected development

When asked to comment on the death of Parad, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said Monday they are expecting this development will continue to finally end insurgency and terrorist acts in the country especially in Mindanao.

“We are gratified by this development, (by) this new advance in our continuing fight against the terrorist groups. We hope and we look forward to continued successes in the military front,” Olivar added.

Parad was one of the top notorious leaders of Abu Sayyaf who was said to be the brain in the kidnapping of three international Red Cross workers in Jolo in January 2009 who were eventually freed safely.

The bandit leader had also been implicated in the abduction of ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon, her two crews and a Mindanao university professor Octavio Dinampo in 2008. They were later released by the groups allegedly upon payment of ransom which the government vehemently denied.

He had a US$5 million bounty on his head from the US government while P7 million from the Philippine government.

Olivar said they are hoping for the annihilation of Abu Sayyaf group to restore damaged infrastructures in the province and for the people to live in a peaceful community.

“(We should end) this fight, (because) if we continue to work and to repair the social divisions and provide social services that are needed in that part of the country, insurgency should end to have lasting peace in Mindanao.”

In the process to pound Abu Sayyaf, Olivar said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been in constant communication with its military commanders on the ground and some civilian leadership.

Asked if the government is still confident that they could end terrorist insurgency under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term, he said: “Obviously she has five more months. But I have no idea on the latest security assessment being done by our police and military but my understanding from the reason from the recent reports that is being brought down.”

Metal detectors

In a related development, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will be installing walk-through metal detectors to ensure security and fight any form of terrorist attack in major ports nationwide.

“Since they already have X-ray machines in the ports to inspect cargoes… this time, the safety of port users is our highest priority,” said Chief Superintendent Jose Yuchongco, head Customs Police Division.

The installation of the security system will be patterned to that of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

He said the machines will be operational on or before April in time for the Holy Week.

“Walk-through metal detectors are vital to the success of every security checkpoint installation because they offer uniform scanning of harmful metal while providing improved patron throughput,” he said.

The machine is worth P20 million and will be seven feet in height to be imported from Germany.

“The installation of these detectors is part of the effort of law enforcement agencies to implement tight security measures. This would prevent the entry of bombs and other life-threatening devices in the ports,” Yuchongco said. (Jill Beltran/VR/FP/Sunnex)