Deadline passes; no beheading

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Abu Sayyaf did not carry out its threat to behead one of the workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross, even after it’s new deadline for a troop pullout expired at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I have information na okay pa naman ang tatlo at hindi naman sila pinugutan (that the three are okay and have not been beheaded),” Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

“May possibility pa rin na buhay silang lalabas [There’s a possibility they will all emerge alive],” Tan added. He refused to elaborate.

Even as the deadline lapsed and the hostages remained alive, Tan said the whole of Sulu had been placed under a state of emergency.

In the declaration, Tan directed the police, with the help of the military and civilian volunteers, to set up checkpoints all over the province.

A curfew has also been imposed, subject to guidelines that might be issued by the proper authorities.

Tan also ordered “the conduct of general search and seizure, including arrests in the pursuit of the kidnappers and their supporters; and the conduct of such other actions or police operations as may be necessary to ensure public safety.”

Even before the first ultimatum lapsed at 2 p.m., government troops in Sulu started moving back near the Abu Sayyaf lair in Indanan municipality.

They were ordered to pounce on the bandit group as the deadline set by Albader Parad for the beheading of one of the hostages drew near.

Jolo town Mayor Hussin Amin said, “Life is like hanging in a balance, it’s like the lives of over 800,000 Tausugs as against the lives of three kidnapped victims.”

“We cannot allow this kind of imbalance to stay longer; kailangang matigil na ito [this has to end],” he said.

Asked to elaborate what he meant by life hanging in a balance, Amin explained that “[the] Abu Sayyaf bandits are demanding to free the entire Sulu province of military and other government forces.”

“What do they want? Anarchy? Does it mean that we need to sacrifice the lives of 800,000 Tausugs moving around with the feeling of security and allow these bandits to run loose and free? That cannot be done,” he said.

Amin admitted that tension gripped them every minute as as the deadline approached.

He said whenever the phone rang, he got edgy.

He said the details of the redeployment could be provided only by Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

Meanwhile, an Inquirer informant said the Abu Sayyaf’s extension of the deadline for the total pullout of government troops to 5 p.m. Tuesday came after Sulu Vice Governor Nur Anna Sahidulla and Sulu Representative Yusop Jikiri met and spoke with Doctor Abu, another Abu Sayyaf leader on the island-province.

But while Marines and policemen were moving back near the Abu Sayyaf’s lair in Indanan, the source said the bandits appeared to be preparing for the worst too.

“Actually may movement na ang mga Abu Sayyaf, paakyat na sila sa Bud Tumatangis [Actually there was movement among the Aby Sayyaf; they were moving up Mount Tumatangis],” he said by phone.

Tan said he was not aware of the extension of the new deadline, saying they were closely monitoring the situation.

“We are not losing hope here, let’s cross all our fingers. Wala pa tayong natatanggap na balita sa sinuman sa tatlong bihag [We have not received word from any of the three captives]; we just hope nothing bad will happen to them,” he said.

Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 11:10 pm  Comments Off on Deadline passes; no beheading  
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