By Francis T. Wakefield
A barangay chairperson in Talipao, Sulu, suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of three foreigners and a Filipina from a resort in Samal Island last year, was arrested in a joint law enforcement peration in Indanan, Sulu on Saturday.
Nabbed was Barangay Niyog Sangahan Chairwoman Fauzia Abdulla, according to Army Major Filemon Tan Jr., the spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom).
Tan said Abdulla was arrested at about 11:15 a.m. Saturday in a law enforcement operation conducted by operatives of the Sulu Provincial Police Office (SPPO), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Tan said the suspect was arrested based on a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping with homicide that was issued by Judge Dax Gonzaga Xenos of the 11th Judicial Regional Branch 34 of Panabo City in connection with the 2015 kidnapping of Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor from a resort in Samal Island.
The four victims were brought to Sulu by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) where they were held hostage. Ridsdel and Hall were later beheaded separately, while Flor and Sekkingstad were released September this year.
Tan said Abdulla was reportedly involved in coddling ASG members by providing the bandits sanctuary, being part of their information network, and by providing them with food.
She was also cited as being involved in “managing and providing leadership, especially in decision making inside the ASG.”
Abdulla was brought by arresting authorities to the Sulu PPO for proper documentation and processing.
Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of JTFS, said the arrest of Abdulla dealt a major blow to the leadership of the ASG.
“The ASG’s information network, command and decision making will be severely affected with the arrest of a major figure inside their leadership,” Dela Vega said.