3 Indonesians freed in Sulu
THREE Indonesians held captive by Abu Sayyaf bandits for three months were freed on Saturday night and turned over to the government yesterday through Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Misuari turned over Ferry Arifin, 26; Edi Suryono, 27; and Muhamad Mabrur Dahri, 27, to Sulu Gov. Abdusakur “Totoh” Tan II in Indanan town at 11 a.m.
The three were part of a group of sailors abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in June, authorities said. The terms of the release were not disclosed.
In a statement, Dureza said when Misuari, through a telephone call, informed him about the breakthrough, he coordinated with officials of the military’s Joint Task Force Sulu to facilitate a smooth turnover.
Convergence of efforts
“These recent breakthroughs were a convergence of efforts that President Duterte initiated, getting the cooperation of the MNLF,” Dureza said.
Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command, said the military obtained custody of the Indonesians at noon.
They were taken to Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in the Sulu capital of Jolo for medical examination and debriefing.
He said the would be taken to Zamboanga City where they would be turned over to Indonesian officials.
Sunday’s handover was the latest hostage release overseen by Misuari, founder of MNLF.
In mid-September, a Norwegian hostage kidnapped in 2015 and three other Indonesian seamen were handed over by the Abu Sayyaf to Misuari, who then passed them on to the government.
A few days later, another kidnapped Indonesian sailor was freed through the MNLF.
Military sources said the bandits are still holding a Dutch hostage, five Malaysians, two Indonesians and four Filipinos in their jungle stronghold.
They beheaded two Canadian hostages earlier this year, after failing to collect a ransom.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.
In a separate statement, Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of AFP-Joint Task Force Sulu, said “relentless” military operations will continue until all remaining hostages are released. Reports from Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao, Jerome Aning in Manila, AFP
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