By Nonoy Lacson
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chair Yusop Jikiri Friday revealed that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) will be demanding P30 million from the employer of the five Indonesian nationals in Malaysia for their immediate release from captivity.
Jikiri said the MNLF has received reliable information that the ASG will demand P30 million from the fishing company where the five work as fishermen in Malaysia.
“That ransom demand is ridiculous and impractical. For me, I won’t give in to their demand and would prefer for rescue operations instead of paying ransom,” Jikiri said.
The five were kidnapped by the ASG in Tambisan Island, Malaysia, an island in the Sulu Sea, while they were fishing in the area last January 16.
Military authorities identified the kidnapped victims as Arsyad Dahlan, 41 skipper of the fishing boat, fishermen Arizal Kastamiran, 29, La Baa, 32, Riswanto Hayano, 27, and Edi Lawalopo, 53.
Jikiri said the ASG were holding captive the five Indonesian fishermen in the forested boundary of Patikul and Indanan towns in Sulu province.
Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said they have already deployed additional soldiers in Patikul and part of Indanan towns to carry out rescue operations.
Jikiri was in this city yesterday on his way to Jolo in Sulu where the front also has a camp after they signed a peace agreement in 1996
Jikiri said the MNLF anti-kidnaping and terrorism task force which he organized was closely monitoring the activities of the group in order for the military to launch a rescue operation to free the five Indons from the hands of the ASG.
“We learned from our field intelligence operatives that the ASG plan to demand P30 million from the employer of the five fishermen in Malaysia but their demand has not made public yet,” Jikiri said.
“The five are heavily guarded by their captors, and we are closely monitoring their movement in order for the military to mount a successful rescue operations,” he explained.