COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/15 June) — Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman has doubted the wisdom of putting Sulu and Basilan provinces under martial law in a bid to address security problems posed by the bandit group Abu Sayaff which beheaded on Monday another Canadian hostage.
Hataman said Wednesday there are better options in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf that would not result in human rights abuses.
The official was reacting to reports that incoming President Rodrigo Duterte was planning to declare martial law in the two island provinces to stop the Abu Sayyaf.
“It’s not necessary, no need as of this time. The Martial Law experience by Moros in Mindanao has been traumatic. Our fear now, instead of getting the support of the people we might face trouble from various human rights abuses,” he warned.
He proposed instead a “well-coordinated, intensified and participative” law enforcement using simultaneous military operations in Sulu and Basilan in Abu Sayyaf lairs.
He said the bandits only number around 200-300.
He suggested that for three to six months the civilians can be placed in one evacuation area with their needs provided while government forces run after the bandit group.
At the same time, Hataman warned local officials who would refuse to participate in the law enforcement drive or found to be supporting the Abu Sayyaf will be held liable.
He urged the people and officials of Sulu and Basilan to join in efforts to achieve the peace and order.
“If these local barangay officials and town officials cannot make actions or will not cooperate, then its time for the government to hold them accountable and responsible. We really have to put an end to this vicious cycle of ASG because they destroy the image of Muslims,” he stressed.
On Monday, the bandits killed Robert Hall after the 3p.m. deadline for the payment of the P600-million ransom lapsed. Last April 25, the group also beheaded Hall’s compatriot John Ridsdel.
Hall and his Filipina partner Maritess Flor, Ridsdel and Kjartan Sekkingstad were kidnapped from a resort in Samal Island in September last year and brought to Sulu.
In a video that has circulated, the bandits were chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) while cutting off the victim’s head.
Ghadzali Jaafar, vice chairman for political affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said “the act of ASG is not acceptable in Islam and we condemned it in the highest level”. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)