By Nonoy Lacson
JOLO, Sulu – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Saturday joined government forces to rescue the remaining hostages of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
MNLF Chair Hadji Yusop Jikiri said he has mobilized 15 of his trusted ground leaders with some 400 former MNLF combatants in Sulu to undertake the mission.
Jikiri said the 15 MNLF leaders were ordered to report to him directly of any developments on the mission to locate and rescue the hostages from the hands of the ASG.
“I am personally heading the combatants in the search and rescue operations for the remaining local and foreign nationals who still are captives of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu,” Jikiri said in an interview at the MNLF main camp in sitio Pasil in Indanan, Sulu.
“We want to make Sulu a peaceful place to visit or live in,” Jikiri added.
He said that he had deployed his men to all areas where the ASG can hide their hostages and to monitor the people around the area.
He said that the ASG splinter groups are highly mobile, making it difficult to pinpoint their exact location and their hostages.
Jikiri expressed optimism that the number of combatants deployed will be enough to help government forces rescue the hostages when their locations are found.
Our combatants know the terrain of the areas where they were deployed and that is an advantage for us, Jikiri added.
Meanwhile, MNLF combatants in Sulu are assisting agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the local police in the fight against illegal drugs.
“We are also helping the local police and PDEA in the province in their fight against the use of the prohibited substance by our people here,” he said.