Warlord brought to Cebu hospital, MILF says

Posted at 08/20/2012 7:02 PM | Updated as of 08/21/2012 8:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Warlord Ameril Umbra Kato has been brought to a Cebu hospital, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said Monday.

The ailing Kato, who leads the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), was confined last month at the yet-to-be disclosed hospital because of the lingering effects of a heart attack he suffered last year, the MILF website Luwaran.com said.

The rebel group said the report sent by a reliable source in Cebu City was corroborated by a government official in Maguindanao.

Kato has a P10 million bounty on his head.

"Early last month, Kato reassumed his post during a press conference attended by close civilian and armed supporters. However, he was seen as very weak and frail even in how he read his prepared speech," the MILF report said.

Kato's aide, Mohammad Ali Tambako, led the BIFM in his absence, according to the MILF.

The MILF, which is in peace negotiations with the government, said Tambako is more radical than Kato possibly because of "his closer contact with militant personalities while taking his Islamic studies in Khartoum, Sudan."

An unnamed politician allegedly paid for Kato's hospitalization in Cebu.

“We knew of Kato’s presence in Cebu one day after he arrived, but we kept the information close to our heart for humanitarian reasons,” MILF quoted its source as saying.

Army 6th Infantry Division spokesman Col. Prudencio Asto said they received information that Kato hospitalized in Maguindanao last August 6.

He said the military has no information about Kato's hospitalization in Cebu.

The BIFM earlier attacked 10 military detachments in Maguindanao, prompting government troops to launch an offensive against the breakaway members of the MILF.