MANILA, Philippines – The government of Zamboanga City is looking to implement a travel restriction for passengers coming from Sabah, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) areas amid reported cases of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant.
Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco said she has requested for a meeting with the city council to discuss the possibility of issuing a resolution on the proposed travel suspension.
Climaco said the proposal follows the reported case of a new COVID-19 variant in Sabah, which is only a few hours away from Zamboanga City.
“We requested the Sangguniang Panglungsod to call for an emergency meeting for a resolution in order to have a moratorium of travel to Basulta and Tawi-Tawi, as well as Sabah,” she said.
The mayor further stated that the Philippine Navy has deployed three additional ships to Sitangkai Island in Tawi-Tawi, which is near Sabah, to monitor the area and prevent any passenger vessels from entering Zamboanga and BaSulTa areas.
Apprehended passengers and vessels will be turned over to their respective local government units to undergo a quarantine period, according to Climaco. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lalaine Moreno)
Eighteen years since the kidnapping and beheading incidents at Golden Harvest Plantation in Basilan in 2001, authorities finally arrested on Sunday (February 3) two elusive suspects in the crime.
Harub Jaljalis alias Indal, 45, and Pinky Ani Hadjinulla, 37, have been positively identified by survivors of the Golden Harvest Plantation incident as among the abductors. The two are alleged members of the Islamist terrorist organization, Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Indal, who was arrested at a canteen in Zamboanga City, is a bomb maker for the Radullan Sahiron faction of the ASG. He received bomb-making training from Indonesian and Middle Eastern jihadists. He also served as an escort for a number of high-profile terrorists.
Indal has been known to work closely with Pinky Ani Hadjinulla who was arrested inside a shopping mall in Zamboanga City.
NBI Counter Terrorism Division chief, Atty. Raoul Manguerra said, “In a way we tried to neutralize this cell of Indal and Pinky Hadjinulla. Pinky Hadjinulla, we believe, conducts reconnaissance around Zamboanga to know possible targets either kidnapping or to commit other atrocities like throwing grenades.”
Authorities believe that the arrested suspects employ such tactics to create chaos in Zamboanga, Basilan Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, particularly after the series of bombings in these areas.
“They can conduct a series of bombings and kidnapping incidents to divert the focus and the attention of the law enforcement and the security forces in the area,” said NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin.
Authorities are still looking into the suspects’ possible involvement in the recent Jolo and Sulu blasts. — Chato Alonsagay (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
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