FILE PHOTO: AFP Spokesperson BGen. Restituto Padilla Jr.
PHILIPPINES — Despite the relentless military operations to capture the bandit groups in the southern portion of the country, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admits that it is still very difficult for them to repress the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)because of the culture in the communities where these groups are hiding.
“Mahirap talagang hanapin kasi kasabwat na nila yung bawat barrio na may isang bahay dyan na hindi mo alam sa silong nila may isang nakatago; so it’s not easy (They are difficult find because they are in cahoots with every barrio. A house may be hiding a bandit in the basement and we just don’t know it; so it’s not easy.) ,” said AFP spokesperson, BGen. Restituto Padilla, Jr.
“It has been a culture, parang cottage industry na sinusuportahan; magkakamaganak ‘yan eh (It has been a culture, like a cottage industry that everyone supports; they’re all related.),” he added.
Recently, the group beheaded German national Jurgen Kantner.
As of today, there are still 25 foreigners and six Filipinos still held captive by ASG.
Based on information gathered by the AFP, these hostages include 12 Vietnamese nationals, 7 Indonesians, 5 Malaysians, 1 Dutch national and 6 Filipinos.
AFP explains that it is not under their jurisdiction to control a certain community, unless the President declares martial law in a specific area or put it under the state of emergency.
In line with this, the AFP has launched the Integrated Area Development Plan that aims to strengthen and develop the ties of the military with the local government units in some portions of the Mindanao region.
“He is trying to have the whole government agencies team up to address the systemic problems or systemic needs of the place,” said Padilla.
“Hindi po malulutas ng batas, ng military solutions lamang ang mga problema dito sa lugar na ito. Malalim na ang ugat ng pinagmumulan ng problemang ito. Sa lalim nito ang tingin na ng ibang tao sa kidnap for ransom ay isang cottage industry o kabuhayan (The problems facing this area are not easily solved by the law of military solutions. The problem has deeply rooted itself that people already look at kidnap for ransom as a cottage industry or a livelihood). ”
Meanwhile, the AFP has created a task force to search for the remains of the German national beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Group. — Joan Nano | UNTV News and Rescue