AFP: 2 hostages have joined Abus | Inquirer News

AFP: 2 hostages have joined Abus

Military says Japanese, Filipino are now part of the bandit group; 3 others removed from list of kidnap victims
/ 12:05 AM January 04, 2017

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Armed Forces of the Philippines said a Japanese treasure hunter abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in 2010 and a Filipino businessman held by the bandits since 2014 have been removed from the list of kidnap victims after the military received reports that they have joined the group.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., the spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said fish trader Joshua Bani had been considered an ally of the Abu Sayyaf and will no longer be included on the government’s list of kidnap victims.

He said the fate of Japanese Toshio Ito, who had earlier been suspected of joining the bandit group, is unknown.


Tan said kidnap victims Dennis Cabadunga, a businessman from Labason town in Zamboanga del Norte province, who was kidnapped on May 28, 2015; Santino Espino, a 9-year-old boy kidnapped in Jolo town in Sulu province on June 30, 2016; and Antonio Tan, a Chinese-Filipino businessman from Lapuyan town in Zamboanga del Sur province, who was kidnapped on March 23, 2016, had also been removed from the list of kidnap victims because the military had not received updates on their status for a long time.


He said the military’s list now has 27 victims, among them a Dutch, a German, a Korean, four Indonesians, five Malaysians, six Vietnamese and nine Filipinos.

Tan said the military has “strengthened” its cooperation with residents of Sulu in a bid to enlist their help to rescue the victims.

Locals’ cooperation

“We are strengthening our cooperation with the local populace and make them understand their role in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf. The people can always put pressure on the Abu Sayyaf and not support the bandits. The cooperation with the AFP is significant in this fight,” he said.

Temojen Tulawie, a former councilor of Jolo, said the bandits have become more powerful, with the group’s influence becoming stronger in five major towns in Sulu.

“The Abu Sayyaf started abducting more people, [especially] foreigners, 16 years ago. There was kidnapping before 2000 but it was not that [prevalent] … compared to 2000 until today,” Tulawie said.

He said many soldiers have died in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf, but the bandits continued to operate and the problem of kidnapping persisted.


Tulawie said now is the time for President Duterte to show his tough leadership.

“Mr. Duterte [should use an] iron fist, but this has to be an extraordinary solution without spilling the blood of innocent people. We have [experienced] so many deaths and abuses,” he said.

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Tulawie said the military campaign against the Abu Sayyaf should focus on the towns of Patikul, Talipao, Maimbung, Parang and Indanan.

TAGS: abducted, Abu Sayyaf Group, Hostages

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