Misuari wants military ops to stop for talks for release of Sayyaf captives
MORO National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari has asked the government to stop military operations in Sulu as he negotiates for the release of the remaining captives of the Abu Sayyaf, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed on Monday.
“There’s a request by Misuari to suspend the military operations while he negotiates for the release of the remaining hostages,” the defense secretary said in an interview aired on ABS CBN News Channel.
It was Misuari who helped in the negotiation on the recent release of a Norwegian (Kjartan Sekkingstad) and three Indonesian fishermen (Lorens Koten, Teo Doros Kofong and Emmanuel Arakian) who were held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf. They were turned over to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza over the weekend.
The captives were released for a certain amount of ransom according to reports, but the government has denied it.
Lorenzana said he did not fully yield to Misuari’s request of suspension of operations, but has asked the military commander to use his judgment.
“I only told the commander to use their judgment. They can stop operations where negotiations are taking place but not in all places,” he said.
Before the release of the four hostages, Dureza asked the military to suspend its operations as Misuari worked on the release.
“Secretary Dureza asked me to suspend operations in the route the ASG are coming to meet Misuari to hand over the hostages. He said, ‘Can you tell your men not to fire against these people that are coming down?’” he said.
Because it was already late, the hostages spent the night at Misuari’s place in Patikul. Dureza picked them up the next day.
There are 16 remaining hostages by the Abu Sayyaf — 12 foreigners and four Filipinos.
“We are aiming to accomplish, to rescue them or recover them safely,” Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.
He also said they have no knowledge whether ransom was paid for the release of the four freed captives.
“We continue to abide by the government’s no ransom no negotiation policy…We are not aware of any kind of talks or negotiations, that’s why I said we don’t have any proof that there was exchange of ransom,” he said.
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