DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace adviser Jesus Dureza has said that the new administration will not negotiate peace with the ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf group.
Dureza, who flew to Oslo for preliminary talks with communist rebels for the resumption of peace negotiations, said “the Abu Sayyaf has to face the full force of the law for their terrorism and criminal acts.”
He said he tried to negotiate directly with the Abu Sayyaf for the safe release of one of three foreigners and his friend John Ridsdel kidnapped last year in Samal Island in Davao Oriental province, but rebels beheaded the former Canadian mining executive after his family failed to raise the ransom demand.
“I have even directly negotiated with the ASG just recently to seek the release of my friend John Ridsdel whom they nevertheless beheaded as the families could not raise the demanded ransom amount, but negotiating with them in the context of what we are doing with the Bangsamoro and the CPP-NPA-NDFP is definitely not the way forward,” Dureza said.
He was referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, its political arm.
Duterte is said to be considering declaring martial law in Sulu and Basilan, two of five provinces under the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where the Abu Sayyaf is actively operating. He said the Abu Sayyaf must surrender.
The rebel group has threatened to kill another foreign hostage by June 13 if ransoms are not paid for the freedom of Ridsdel’s companions Canadian Robert Hall and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad. It demanded P300 million for each of the hostages.
In 2009, then Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan declared a state of emergency to address the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and terrorism and launched an identification system among the residents in the province.
In his emergency declaration, Tan invoked Section 465 of the Local Government Code of the Philippines in 1991, authorizing chief executives to “carry out such emergency measures as may be necessary during and in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters and calamities.”
The kidnapping of 3 International Committee of the Red Cross workers – a Swiss national, an Italian and a Filipina in January 2009 by the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul town had been invoked as the justification for the declaration.
With the state of emergency, military and police authorities set up checkpoints and imposed a curfew and conducted general search and seizure, including arrests in pursuit of Abu Sayyaf members and their supporters necessary to ensure the public’s safety.
But human rights groups had opposed this, although civilian and business sectors in Sulu supported Tan’s emergency declaration. (Mindanao Examiner)
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