MILF official: Commander Ameril Umbra Kato is dead

COTABATO CITY — Ameril Umra Kato, leader of a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, died while under the care of his first wife in Toril district in Davao City, shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday, an MILF official said. “Now it is confirmed [that] Ameril Umbra Kato passed away in Toril…” said Michael Mastura, legal counsel of the MILF and member of the rebel group’s peace negotiating panel, in a text message to reporters. He did not elaborate. Other members of the MILF have yet to confirm Kato’s death, with MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar only confirming that Kato suffered a stroke, which he said “paralyzed” the former MILF commander. “Confirmed na-stroke siya (Kato), na serious sya, at a time na-comatose siya pero hindi sya makapagsalita, ganyan, na-paralyze ‘yung kalahati sa katawan kaya hindi siya makakain, hindi makapagsalita,” Jaafar said Sunday. He said they also received information from “reliable sources” that Kato was recovering from his condition. “Yung sources na reliable… sinasabi hindi pa patay at sinasabi unti-unti nakaka-recover siya.” With his breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), Kato, former commander of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, had questioned the MILF’s capability to face the government in peace negotiations. He claimed the MILF does not represent the real sentiment of the Bangsamoro people. MILF spokesperson Von Al-Haq said they received reports from civilians and Kato’s relatives about the former MILF leader’s supposed death, but they have yet to confirm this, saying they are “having difficulty penetrating his people.” “No one has confirmed if the information is true. We are having difficulty penetrating his people. Most of the information say that he is already dead. These information are coming from civilians and his relatives who said they heard of his death but they could not confirm if its true,” said Al Haq on Sunday. Al-Haq said some according to some information, Kato, who is in his late 60s, died in Maguindanao province and not in Toril, Davao City. Even the military has yet to confirm Kato’s death. Brig. Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said they received information that Kato died last Saturday morning, a few days after he allegedly suffered a heart attack. Kato is facing charges for leading attacks in Mindanao after the Supreme Court junked in 2008 a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which the Philippine government and the rebel group nearly signed in Malaysia. He was expelled from the MILF in October this year. Kato had claimed that his group has about 5,000 members, although military officials pegged his followers to be only about 300. The group is believed to be based at Camp Omar, an MILF camp in Maguindanao province. Al-Haq, meanwhile, said Kato’s supporters — which he estimated to be around 500 — are welcome to rejoin the MILF, noting that both the MILF and the BIFM are working for the good of the Bangsamoro people. “Our doors are open for them… Even before the story that he died, the doors of the MILF are open for them…. The MILF remains open in case they have the intention to return with us,” said Al-Haq. However, Al Haq said BIFM members who want to rejoin the MILF should respect the MILF policy, which is support the peace negotiations with the government.— LBG/KBK, GMA News

You may also like...