DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines expressed belief the Abu Sayyaf Group is now desperate to get away from the pressures that the government forces are pushing in their areas in Basilan – and that the group has resorted to beheading their kidnap victims.
Speaking to reporters during the regular Mindanao Hour press conference in Malacañang on Wednesday, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr. said the ASG is currently facing difficulties due to the mounting pressures of the massive AFP operations in Basilan.
“The pressure that the ASG is experiencing, particularly the group of Furiji Indama in the island of Basilan from the forces that we have there, led by Colonel Juvymax Uy, is a positive indication that their forces are almost spent, kaya sila nagka ganito. Kasi wala na silang makuha na pakinabang sa mga biktima na kanilang na-abduct, ‘yung mga hostages na hawak nila,” Padilla said.
Decapitated bodies of two Vietnamese kidnap victims were discovered Wednesday morning, July 5 in Barangay Tumahubong, Sumisip, Basilan.
Authorities identified the victims as Hoang TrungThong and Hoang Va Hai.
The two were among the six crew members of the Vietnamese bulk carrier M/V Royal 16 who were seized by ASG members last November 11, 2016 in the area of Sibago Island, Basilan.
Padilla said government efforts in the past months have effectively degraded the capacity of ASG to collect ransom from the families of their kidnap victims.
“Dahil matagal na po nilang hawak ito at walang nakukuhang maski anumang klaseng pagbabayad. Kasi nga hinihikayat natin lahat po ng mga kumpanya at mga pamilya nito na talagang makipag-ugnayan po sa ating mga pulis na kabilang sa anti-task— kidnap task force ‘no,” he pointed out.
He said there were no reported abductions perpetrated by ASG in many months in the seas around Zamboanga, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi area due to the intensified security and patrol operations of the AFP.
“This is an indication that their capacity to perform or do these criminal activities has been degraded tremendously. And we would like to keep it that,” Padilla said.
He said the AFP will continue the focused military operations in the areas of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi against the ASG. He added the AFP will also strengthen its collaboration with the local government units and the communities in said areas.
The Western Mindanao Command condemned the beheading of the two kidnap victims, saying that the AFP, together with the Philippine National Police, the local leaders, and various sectors have exerted efforts to rescue the kidnap victims.
In a statement on Wednesday to the media, Westmincom commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said: “Westmincom commiserates with the bereaved family and friends of the slain victims. In no way does the Abu Sayyaf Group represent our Muslim brothers who are true followers of Islam.” (davaotoday.com)