Thursday, April 16, 2015

BIFF's Kato declined offer for medical treatment

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Apr 16): BIFF's Kato declined offer for medical treatment

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) founder Ameril Umbra Kato might have lived longer had he agreed to undergo sustained therapy for his illnesses at an Army hospital.

Kato succumbed Tuesday to pneumonia and other complications at his lair in Datu Hofer, Maguindanao, more than two years after he suffered a hypertensive stroke that left half of his body paralyzed.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division then led by Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo offered medical help to Kato in 2012.

Ardo’s offer was even announced over Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City, which pioneered ''peace journalism'' in Central Mindanao, after learning of Kato's deteriorating health condition.

Ardo had said the 6th ID’s offer of free medication for Kato was meant to show to the BIFF that the military was sincere in pushing forward the government’s peace overture with Moro communities.

Kato rejected the offer, saying it was a ploy intended to hasten his arrest for having led bloody attacks in North Cotabato and Maguindanao after the aborted Aug. 8, 2008 crafting of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Kato was booted out of the MILF for insubordination and founded the BIFF in 2010.

Kato opposed the MILF talking peace with the government, vowing to derail the peace process and establish an Islamic state.

Ardo again tried to convince Kato, through local officials in Maguindanao, to undergo medication when he became chief of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City following his stint as 6th ID commander.

Ardo was to let Army Islamic theologians fetch Kato in a bilaterally designated site had he accepted the offer.

Ardo’s successor in the 6th ID’s top post, now retired Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz, also thrice urged the BIFF chieftain to undergo treatment at the Camp Siongco Hospital.

Instead of responding favorably to the offers of Ardo and Gapuz, Kato’s group staged bloody attacks in Maguindanao during the Islamic Ramadan fasting season in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“Kato did not accept the offer of the 6th ID because there was possibility the MILF would criticize him for bolting out, with a vow to fight for an Islamic state, only to become a friend of the military,” a cousin of Kato said.

Kato’s successor as BIFF’s top leader, Sheik Esmael Abubakar, is just as extreme in his religious practices.

Abubakar, known as “Bongos,” assumed as BIFF chieftain noontime of Tuesday, in the presence of followers gathered in the hinterlands of Datu Saudi town.

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