Sobejana receives four rescued Indonesian kidnap victims

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 21 March) — Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana flew to this city Sunday to receive in formal rites the four Indonesian kidnap victims who were rescued by government troops on Thursday and early Sunday morning.

Rescued on Thursday were Rizal Kasta Miran, 30, Arsad Bin Dahlan, 41, and Andi Riswanto, 26, while rescued early Sunday morning (March 21) was 15-year old Khairuldin Bin Ye Kii, all residents of Kabupaten Wakatobi municipality, Sulawesi  Tengara, Indonesia.

On Saturday evening, 15-year old Khairuddin escaped along with the two Sayyaf companions of Abu Sayyaf subleader Hajan Sahijuan, also known as Apo Mike.  But following a firefight at 6:30 Sunday morning, he was rescued as he was abandoned by the two who escaped during the military operation.

Fifteen year old Khairuldin Bin Ye Kii of Sulawesi, Indonesia rescued in Tawi-tawi early Sunday morning, March 21, 2020. The boy hopes to be reunited with his family after more than a year’s captivity by the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group. He is escorted by the Naval Forces Western Mindanao to Zamboanga City. NAVFORWM handout

Western Mindanao Command led by Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan acknowledged the joint operatives of the Tandubas, Languyan and South Ubian municipal police, all of the PNP Maritime Force, as well as the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6, representing the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi who pursued on March 18, 20, and 21, the Abu Sayyaf Group, then resistant and heavily armed onboard a motorized boat.

The troops were likewise acknowledged for their capture of ASG subleader Majan Sahijuan who led a team in battling against the Marines and Maritime Police in Kalupag Island after an attempt to ask for water from residents in the island-barangay. Sahijuan eventually died due to loss of blood while in the custody of the 2nd Marine Brigade.

Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Deputy Commissioner for Operations of the Philippine National Police, congratulated “the key players” as he cited the “strong partnership of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

Binag, representing PNP Chief Debold Sinas, cited importance of trust (“tiwala”) by the civilian populace on the government forces while he hoped to “continue this kind of working relationship,” noting the value of “cooperation, sharing of (intelligence-based) information, joint operation, et cetera.”

Sobejana on his part commended the troops and spoke of the military’s concern “to free our country of terrorists” as he specifically mentioned the Abu Sayyaf Group in Western Mindanao, the Bangsamoro Islamic fighters in Eastern Mindanao, the remnants of the Maute group in Marawi. This, as he calls on the military to be mindful of the provisions and demands of Executive Order No. 70.

He expressed optimism that with unity and cooperation peace will reign in the Bangsamoro region, in Mindanao and “even across the (Philippine) archipelago, because I do believe that security is a shared responsibility not only by the military and police alone. It requires support from the other agencies of the (Philippine) government.

“If we look at the reasons why there are insurgents or there are terrorists, there are other factors that are beyond the Armed Forces to resolve. That’s the reason why we have to involve     other agencies of government, even the business sector that provides their employment,” Sobejana added.

Sobejana told MindaNews in a telephone interview that the four Indonesian nationals will be  “formally turned over to the Charges d’Affaires of the Indonesian Embassy on Tuesday.” (Frencie Carreon, MindaNews)