Security in Siargao tightened amid kidnapping jitters

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews/09 December) — Security in Siargao Island has been tightened amid rumors the Abu Sayyaf was planning to abduct tourists in this popular travel destination.

General Luna Mayor Jaime P. Rusillon said Monday the rumors have made the owners of some cozy resorts and tourists leave the island.

Rusillon said the 30th Infantry Battalion has deployed some troops in the town to secure guests and owners of the high-end resorts.

He said they were not taking chances because the rumors “might be possibly true”.

It was also learned that all police units in Siargao’s nine towns were placed on red alert.

PO3 Vic Concon, intelligence officer of General Luna Police Office told MindaNews on Monday that they remained on red alert status.

But Rusillon pointed out the town has remained peaceful as ever.

“There is no reason tourists should hesitate to come in here. The fact that we are ready for the bad guys just in case…and we are tightening our security to make sure every tourist is safe,” he said.

The mayor said the Abu Sayaff would have a hard time carrying out abductions in the island. “How could they get out of the island? The fact that their hotbed is very far from Siargao.”

Several resort owners said the rumors about the Abu Sayyaf frightened them.

Sandy Epituh, a resort owner in General Luna called on government to secure all tourist areas in the country. “Not just Siargao but all tourist areas in the country.”

Rusillon said he received a call about the rumors from Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas, who got the information from Leticia Tan, regional tourism director.

He admitted that security in town was lax since it has never experienced any kidnapping incident.

Last November 17, the provincial government held a stakeholders meeting on security planning at Kapitolyo Nan Siargao, an extension provincial office in Siargao located in Dapa town.

The plan aims to ensure security in Siargao as a major tourist destination in Caraga Region.

General Luna hosts hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists. It is famous for its surfing site called Cloud 9. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)