The Save Sulu Movement called on the Senate to investigate the links of local government unit officials in Sulu province to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
SSM leader Professor Octavio Dinampo told reporters in a press conference at Habi at Kape in Abreeza Mall in Davao City on Wednesday that it is high time for the government to seriously look into the connections of some officials to the ASG.
“The people of Sulu have been hostaged by ASG for the past 10 years now,” Dinampo, who is a professor at the Mindanao State University in Sulu said.
He added that terrorism is a menace that is threatening the people in the country, not only in Sulu.
Dinampo was also kidnapped by the ASG in 2008 and was held by the group for a period of 10 days.
“We want the Senate to investigate the backers of ASG, that include politicians and businessmen in our area,” he said, emphasizing that Sulu, at present, is being controlled by one political clan.
He also urged the other agencies of the government and private groups to support their call.
“ASG cannot be defeated by military actions alone. The national government must have the will with the backings of various sectors. This is the best way to fight the ASG and terrorism in the country,” he stressed.
The group also provided the media with their official statement, saying that the administration of President Duterte is yet to demonstrate and implement new and effective strategies to wipe out the ASG in Sulu and prevent its menace from spreading into other parts of the country.
“Despite the declaration of State of Lawlessness and the augmentation of military and police forces to reach 10,000 in Sulu, the ASG is still on kidnapping rampage and even expanding its target to as far as the peaceful and tourist-rich island of Bohol,” the SSM statement said.
The group added that statements against ASG are not enough to neutralize the terrorist group.
“The real situation in Sulu unfolds a totally different story of kidnapping becoming a cottage industry with local officials acting as promoters, brokers, and protectors,” the group said.
Aside from the call for a probe, SMM also asked the Congress to criminalize the giving and payment of ransom and the receipt of ransom in the guise of negotiation.
“It is sickening to keep on hearing the NO-ransom policy when everyone knows too well that ransom is actually being paid and brokered by the local government officials thus perpetuating the business of ASG,” the group said.
SSM is also encouraging the kidnap victims to cooperate with the authorities to bring to the bar of justice ASG members.