The only congressman to die from last night’s explosion at the House of Representatives is the late Wahab Akbar. With all the networks focusing on speculations on what could have been the source and motive of the blast, let us talk a bit about the late congressman.
Who is Wahab Akbar?
This is what I know based on past years’ news reports and this morning’s radio interview with another congressman.
Congressman Wahab Akbar is one of the founders* of the dreaded Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) who became the governor and now, the congressman of Basilan. He is quoted to have claimed that he didn’t like what Abu Sayaff became so he left and joined the rebel group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Afterwards, Akbar became an Islamic preacher and developed a large following. Eventually, he entered politics.
While he was a governor, the Abu Sayaff went on a kidnapping rampage. Groups of public school teachers, nurses, tourists, catholic priests, Christian missionaries and many others were kidnapped and released after ransom was paid. Of course, there were some who escaped during military operations. In addition to the kidnapping and ransom, reports abound that torture, rape and beheading of the kidnap victims were rampant.
During those events, Wahab Akbar was at always the forefront. He strongly advocated military and unorthodox operations to solve the problem. And when his daughter became a part of one group kidnapped, Akbar used his familiarity of the ASG leaders and had the families of known terrorists kidnapped and threatened with beheading. This proved to be effective since his daughter was released shortly after that.
Other things that Akbar was popular for include his strong criticism of perceived military lapses in his province as well as tough talk against the Abu Sayaff. Despite that, it is believed that he never really distanced himself from his alleged ex comrades. In addition, Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo wrote several times that Akbar was the perpetrator of the recent ambush that lasted from morning to nightfall and took the life of 18 members of the Philippine Marines, 10 of which were beheaded.
During the last national elections, Akbar ran and won the congressional seat while a wife succeeded him in the governorship. Another wife became a mayor and I have no information whether his other wives also won in their respective areas.
As colorful as the life that he led, his death is becoming a fertile ground for more stories. Was it an assassination implemented by the military, his political opponents, rebels? Was it just a case of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time? Was it a deliberate plan to create a big headline that will send today’s congressional story to the back pages of the newspapers? We don’t know yet, at this point.
But one thing is clear. The Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur Yap, sent this message, “
Whatever they say about Congressman Akbar, we were just planning a program of planting more rubber trees, corn and other crops in order to increase the production of his province and help his people. We send our condolences!”
"Nothing will happen unless it is God’s will (insa'allah)".I commend your soul to God.
Assalam alaikum, may peace finally be unto you!
* Though this was often written in the news and even mentioned this morning by a congressman in a radio interview, a transcript of one of Akbar's speeches in the congress seems to say otherwise.