MAGANES: Is Pangasinan vulnerable to terrorists’ attack?

June 16, 2017 at 7:07 am Leave a comment

In May 2002, a Muslim training camp was discovered in Mal-ong village in Anda, Pangasinan. The training camp was discovered when about 13 males in their 20s and 30s applied for a permanent residence in said village in October 2001. They said they were going to be tenants in the farm of Ahmed Santos’s family, a Muslim convert, who has his roots in Anda town. The Santoses are well-known in the town. They owned vast tracks of land.
Then village chief Maximino Celeste was suspicious. He asked requirements from them like birth certificates. While still waiting for said requirements, police operatives raided the place and arrested six of the would-be villagers.  Celeste was not aware that the farm  facing the sea where the would-be villagers stayed was a military training ground. While he heard faint gunshots, he thought they were merely hunting. The Santos’s farm was not easily accessible. It could be reached only by a dirt road.
During the raid, discovered by policemen were foxholes, cooking oil cans with bullet holes, outposts, and improvised obstacle course. There were also few guns, anti-personnel mines, grenades and combat uniforms. Seized also were booklets of Islam, handwritten notes and illustrations of parts of grenades and rifle, weapons training and instructions on how to fire a RPG or rocket-propelled grenade. It was indeed a military camp. The arrested persons were later known as Muslim converts belonging to the Fi Sabillilah- an organization of Muslims with their converts founded in 1998 who were mostly Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia.

Later on, it was found out that the group was handling madrasah classes for Islam studies and planning to put up mosques in Anda town. It was also found out that the Fi Sabilillah was connected with the International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi Arabia-based charity group, headed by Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, a brother in law of Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda. Khalifa was said to have given funds to Abu Sayyaf.
After the raid, no news were heard about the Muslim training camp in Anda. Ahmed Santos was not heard of. Whatever happened to said training camp? Had there been follow up of the villagers activities?
Pangasinan is fast becoming the havens of Muslim converts. Mosques are in Alaminos City, Dagupan City, Urdaneta City, Pozorubio, Villasis and other parts of the province. If the intention was only to convert Christians to Islam faith, why then the presence of military training camp for Muslims. Is this not a preparation of a nationwide terrorism especially that they are connected with a terrorist group?
I don’t have anything against the Islam faith. In fact I have a lot of Muslim friends especially when I was still in Mindanao in mid-80s. They are friendly people particularly the Maranaos. The only difference is the faith they are embracing, which is a far cry from the Christian faith. Propagating the Islam faith, like Christianity is not new. My Muslim friends have been converting me in the past, but I turned them down saying to them that Christians and Muslims could co-exist especially because both faiths are propagating peaceful communities.
Now that Marawi City is under siege by the ISIS-inspired Maute group, could we not also look at Pangasinan? Are there still military camps being maintained by our Muslim brothers? What if the one in Anda is still active today, what action the Philippine National Police (PNP) is doing? Is PNP monitoring the activities inside the Santos farm in Mal-ong, Anda?
Like many parts in the country, Pangasinan is vulnerable to Abu Sayyaf attacks. Members are everywhere. We could not detect them in our midst. Even the Muslim friends we have might be a part already of the terrorist group. That is not far from reality, particularly that the war and the declaration of martial law is confined in Mindanao. What if many of them have already slipped to Visayas and Luzon, and sow terrors in these areas in the near future, are we prepared to face them?

The Muslim military camp in Anda was established in 2001 or 16 years ago. That long period of time is enough to consolidate their forces in that place. As it was discovered, the place is not accessible, thus they could still continue their training activities especially that Santos and the other seven would-be villagers in Mal-ong village were not part of those arrested. I am not saying here that there’s still a Muslim training camp in Anda. We just need update from our law enforcement agencies what happened after the raid in 2002.
As of this writing, I have a heavy heart for my neighbors who I think are victims of injustice. They are forced to leave their residences they have long occupied. The space where their houses have been constructed will be used by the rich landowners for other uses. They are given until September to vacate the premises although some of them have been renting the land for so long.
As a token for them to leave the place, they are given 120 feet by 35 feet lot to construct their houses and P10,000  to heads of the families for relocation expenses. What bleeds my heart is that the lot is not enough for a decent house. There are six heads of the families and converting the lot to meters will yield 390.70 square meters or each of them will have 65.11 square meters. I think the area is not even enough for a residential space, given spaces for backyard and front yard. My neighbors are not that rich so how can they build two-storey houses.
Why do rich people have no heart for the poor? They are only after their welfare. They could have donated a little more from their land to my neighbors for to have ample spaces to construct their new houses. Well, God is watching us. The rich could not be richer by exploiting the poor.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at or Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” Read the online edition of Northern Watch at )

Entry filed under: News.

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