By Nonoy Lacson
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The military in Sulu province has deployed more security forces in Patikul, Sulu to rescue the five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in Tambisan island in Malaysia last month.
Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the soldiers are now tracking down the location of the five Indonesians in the forested areas of Patikul in Sulu.
Sobejana said soldiers encountered difficulties in getting a fix on the location of the victims because the group that kidnapped them was highly mobile and has was always on the move to avoid military detection.
Sobejana said the five were kidnapped by the ASG at Tambisan Island, Malaysia, an island located in the Sulu Sea.
He identified the victims as Arsyad Dahlan, 41 skipper of the fishing boat and four fishermen Arizal Kastamiran, 29, La Baa, 32, Riswanto Hayano, 27, and Edi Lawalopo, 53.
The ASG released three fishermen identified as Abdul Latif, 37, Daeng Akbal, 20, and Pian Janiru, 36, who returned to Sabah the next day.
Sobejana said they were following a good lead provided by some local resignets in their rescue operations.
“I urged the village chiefs to help the soldiers locate the victims and rescue them and denounce the ASG in their locality,” Sobejana said.
Late December last year, soldiers rescued Muhammad Farhan, an Indonesian national who was kidnapped and held in the forest of Patikul for almost four months.
Most of the Indonesians were working in Sabah for Malaysian fishing companies, and were fishing near the sea border of the territorial waters of the country when they were taken.
Government data showed that about 39 Indonesian nationals were kidnapped and held hostage by ASG between 2016 and 2019. Of the total, one hostage died while the others were freed.