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Final solution to the Abu Sayyaf problem

/ 01:22 AM May 13, 2017

A nongovernment organization (NGO) in Sulu has urged the Senate to investigate an alleged connivance between the Abu Sayyaf and local officials in the province.

A congressional inquiry will just be a waste of people’s money as senators or congressmen will try to upstage one another in front of TV cameras to impress the public.

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Military intelligence knows the local officials who protect those bandits who kidnap and kill their victims if ransom is not paid.

There is one solution to the Abu Sayyaf problem: In the military, they call it “neutralizing the enemy with extreme prejudice.”
Retired Armed Forces chief Ricardo Visaya, now head of the National Irrigation Administration, said when he was still in the service that the “governor, vice governor, down to the village chiefs” were protecting the terrorist group.

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Everybody in Sulu knows that some of the bandits are bodyguards of the governor and other local officials.

If Visaya knew about the unholy alliance, why didn’t he form a special group among elite soldiers to assassinate the local officials?

Eliminating the concerned officials would have sent a clear message to their successors that it doesn’t pay to consort with enemies of the state.

I was on top of the news in the whole episode of the negotiations for the release of 21 foreigners who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf from the Sipadan diving resort in Sabah, Malaysia.

During the negotiations that lasted five months, I was in constant communication with an officer of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The intelligence officer told me that all the government negotiators earned huge amounts from the ransom payments.

As the ransom demand was made by the kidnappers, the amount escalated as the negotiations passed on from the Abu Sayyaf bandits to the village chief, to the town mayor, to the military officers in the field, to the governor and finally to the national officials sent to Sulu.

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Example: The kidnappers would demand P5 million for one foreign hostage.

The village chief would tell the mayor the demand was P7 million; the mayor would tell the negotiator sent by the governor it was P10 million; the negotiator would raise it to P15 million; the military officers in the field would raise the ransom to P20 million; the governor would then confer with the top national official on the ground about the demand.

The governor and the national official, winking at each other, would tell the journalists covering the crisis that the payment for one particular hostage was P200 million.

So, the ransom demand jumped from the original P5 million to P200 million!

Multiply the final amount by 21—the number of Sipadan hostages—and the figure is mind-boggling.

The national official sent by then President Erap to establish contact with the kidnappers was able to build a columbarium in Metro Manila from the proceeds of the ransom payments.

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