In accusing a Filipino general of colluding with the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, Gracia Burnham has joined at least two other former hostages who have made the same claim.

Former Abu Sayyaf hostage Raul Recio agreed with Burnham that there was indeed Abu Sayyaf-military collusion, as claimed by Burnham in her newly released book on her captivity by the Abu Sayyaf, In the Presence of My Enemies.

Recio, a travel magazine publisher who paid the ASG a P1 million ransom in exchange for the release of his sister-in-law in December 2001( he and his wife escaped from the Abu Sayyaf in June that year), had claimed before a 2002 hearing of the Senate Committees on Defense, Justice and Human Rights that certain military officials were in league with the bandits. He arrived at that conclusion, he said, because the Abu Sayyaf had somehow managed to escape from Lamitan, and because it would regularly come upon food and government-issued medicine along the roads or trails they passed.

Recio also told the media that Burnham had told them, as she claims in her book, that it was the military that killed her husband and wounded her last year during the attack by a military rescue team on the ASG.

According to Recio, Burnham had told them exactly that during a conversation she had with other ex-hostages in Manila shortly before she was flown home to the United States last year.

Also a former hostage of the Abu Sayyaf, Fr. Cirilo Nacorda, parish priest of Lamitan, Basilan, had earlier claimed the same collusion. He had accused ranking military officers before the same Senate Committee of sharing ransom payments with the Abu Sayyaf, and of receiving bribes from them in exchange for their escape from the siege of Lamitan.

The Burnhams, Recio, his wife and his sister in law, as well as other hostages were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan, and then taken to Lamitan. Recio and his wife escaped from the Abu Sayyaf in Lamitan, where Father Nacorda was briefly taken hostage.


Luis V. Teodoro

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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