Abu Sayyaf bandits desperate for way out – DILG

MANILA, Philippines – Abu Sayyaf members holding two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers are probably now scrambling for a way out, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said in a radio interview Tuesday.

Puno said the bandits were probably caught off-guard by the government’s crackdown on alleged Abu Sayyaf supporters and the filing of criminal charges against seven alleged conspirators less than a week after the lapse of the 2 p.m. deadline for the pullout of government troops last March 31.

“Talagang naghahanap na lang ng rason kung bakit hindi nila itutuloy yung kanilang banta, sana wag na nila ituloy yung kanilang banta. Pero naniniwala ako na nangibabaw ang kanilang pangamba na baka mahuli sila dahil talagang bumalik bigla yung mga tropa na tumutugis sa kanila,” Puno said.

[They appear to be looking for a reason why they should not push through with their threat (to behead the hostages), I hope they will not push through with it. But I believe that they have an overriding concern over whether they will be caught because the troops came back to pursue them.]

“Siguro nagulat sila [They were probably surprised],” he said regarding the bandits’ reaction to the filing of criminal charges against seven people believed to have aided in the abduction of Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagnia, and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba.

On Monday, Western Mindanao Police spokesman Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela said three policemen, two village chiefs, and two suspected Abu Sayyaf members were charged with kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention of the three Red Cross volunteers.

Facing the charges are the following:

  • PO2 Marcial Ahajan of the Indanan Municipal Police Office;
  • SPO1 Sattal Jadjuli of Patikul Municipal Police Station;
  • SPO3 Muhilmi Ismula of the Sulu Provincial Police Operations Intelligence Section;
  • Alano Mohammad, village chief of Kanaway in Parang town in Sulu;
  • Julhassan Awadi, village chief of Sawaki in Indanan town in Sulu;
  • Hadjirul Bambra, suspected Abu Sayyaf member; and
  • Ibnogajir Hadjirul, suspected Abu Sayyaf member

According to Gucela, all the accused are linked to Abu Sayyaf leaders either by blood or by marriage. Ismula is believed to be the nephew of Albader Parad, spokesman of the faction that abducted the Red Cross workers, while Ahajan’s wife is said to be a relative of a slain Abu Sayyaf commander.

The seven are currently detained at the Western Mindanao regional office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Zamboanga City.

They were among the 23 people invited for questioning after Sulu was placed under a state of emergency shortly after the lapse of the March 31 deadline.

According to Puno, the bandits were probably scared off with the interrogation of several people believed to have links to the Abu Sayyaf so they were pressured into releasing Lacaba on April 2.

“Karamihan sa kanila mapapatunayan natin na nakikipagusap sa kanila directlyso nung nakita nila na nagkakaarestuhan na, marami dito magkakamag-anak na eh sa tingin ko talagang nangamba sila kaya nagmadali silang bitiwan yung isa para i-release yung pressure,” he said.

[We can prove that many of them directly communicated with the bandits…so when the bandits saw that arrests were being made – a lot of these relatives – I think they really got worried so they rushed to let go of one of the hostages to release the pressure.]

Notter, Vagni, and Lacaba were abducted by Abu Sayyaf bandits last January 15 after the three inspected a water sanitation project in a Sulu jail.Lacaba was released last April 2, but the government repeatedly denies that any ransom was paid.

On Sunday, the government rejected fresh demands from the Abu Sayyaf to pull out military and police forces in Sulu despite Parad’s threat to behead the hostages if the government fails to pull out its forces in at least five areas near the bandits’ stronghold in Indanan town.


Published in: on April 7, 2009 at 12:39 pm  Comments Off on Abu Sayyaf bandits desperate for way out – DILG  
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