Sayyaf deadline now irrelevant amid arrest order – Sulu gov

MANILA, Philippines – The deadline set by the Abu Sayyaf for the government to pull out its troops in Sulu has become irrelevant after a state of emergency was declared in the province, according to Governor Abdusakur Tan.

“Yung deadline ng pagpull out ay wala na sa usapan. Lumagpas na po iyon [The deadline for the pullout has become insignificant. That has lapsed already],” Tan told GMANews.TV in an interview Tuesday night, adding that he never got information on whether the deadline had gone indefinitely.

The Abu Sayyaf set the deadline at 2 p.m., Tuesday, and reportedly extended it to 3 p.m. It gave the government an ultimatum to withdraw all its forces from 14 Sulu villages or it would behead one of the three Red Cross workers that the bandits abducted last January 15.

But with Tan’s declaration of a state of emergency in Sulu, the bandits had apparently been stripped of any option to negotiate with the government. In the declaration, Tan ordered authorities to “conduct general search and seizure, including arrest in the pursuit of the kidnappers and their supporters.”

In a separate interview with radio dzBB Tuesday night, Tan said he was able to talk to a certain Abu Ali earlier in the day. The governor said he was told by Abu Ali that the Abu Sayyaf would behead one of the hostages if troops would not pullout.

“Today I talked to Abu Ali. Ang sinabi niya tutuloy pa rin ang balak pag di umalis ang tropa,” [Today I talked to Abu Ali. He said they would push through with their plan if the troops would not pull out]”

Tan said the Abu Sayyaf wanted all government forces out of Sulu – all the brigade headquarters, battalion headquarters, fire-based headquarters, and checkpoints. He said the bandits wanted all the forces to be stationed in two small towns near Jolo town.

He said the government stopped the negotiations and refused the demand because “it would compromise the security of the people and the province.”

Senator Richard Gordon hinted that somebody caused the collapse of the negotiations with the bandits. He said that in his last conversations with Parad, the latter “in effect gave me a name that supposedly torpedoed the talks.”

Gordon, however, refused to elaborate his statement to GMANews.TV on Tuesday night, because “its a very sensitive issue.”

GMANews.TV, with reports
from Aie Balagtas See

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Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 9:47 am  Comments Off on Sayyaf deadline now irrelevant amid arrest order – Sulu gov  
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