DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A multi-sectoral group on Monday has called for a Senate inquiry to probe deeper into the allegation that some local government and military officials in Sulu are colluding with the ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf Group.
In a press statement sent to the media on Monday, the Save Sulu Movement claimed that “ASG is still active and even growing is because it is enjoying the protection of local officials who are protecting the Abu Sayyaf and receiving lion share in the ransom money.”
“The ASG is also reported to be buying weapons from local politicians who can easily smuggle firearms or purchase it from the military itself,” the group said.
The SSM has raised suspicion on the possible connivance of ASG between the local officials and the military because the former was able to kidnap various personalities despite the 10,000 combined augmentation forces of military and police deployed in Sulu.
The group said that the connivance between the local government unit of Sulu and the notorious ASG was already known to the public as revealed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Given the fact that the connivance between the LGU and ASG is publicly known as revealed by the AFP itself, why is it that no local official has ever been charged in court? Why is it that no barangay captain, mayor or governor for that matter has been arrested and charged for actually receiving ransom money in the guise of negotiation? If the connivance is no secret to the AFP and PNP what have they done to stop it?,” the SSM asked.
The grassroots-based movement also branded AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año to wipe out the ASG by June as “good for media sound bites.”
“The ground unfolds a totally different story of kidnapping becoming a cottage industry with local officials acting as promoters, brokers and protectors,” the SSM said.
With this, the group is calling the “Senate to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the palpable connivance between the local officials and the ASG. We also recommend to Congress to criminalize the giving and payment 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 SSM added.
The SSM has also urged “the kidnapped victims to cooperate with the authorities so that we can finally bring the kidnappers to the bar of justice.”
” We also urge the Committee on Muslim Affairs in Congress to conduct public hearings in Sulu and personally listen to the stories of the people on the ground,” the group said. (davaotoday.com)