PUTRAJAYA: The safety of five Malaysians kidnapped at sea by the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf last month has been given top priority by the Philippine Government.
Philippine Secretary of Interior and Local Government Ismael Sueno said the government was going all out to find them.
“We are trying to get them out safely. It is of primary importance for us to get the five Malaysians safe from Abu Sayyaf.”
Authorities believe the Abu Sayyaf abducted tugboat crewmen, who were identified as Abdurahim Summas, Tayudin Anjut, Mohammad Ridzuan Ismael, Mohammad Jumadil Rahim and Fandy Bakran, on July 19.
Ismael, who was in Putrajaya making a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, said the government was going all out to stop the spread of terrorism in Philippines.
“At present, almost everyone in the country is afraid of our president (Rodrigo Duterte). Even the drug lords, the terrorist groups … they are being hunted down with determination and that includes the Abu Sayyaf group.”
He said the government recently killed about 40 Abu Sayyaf members.
“This is how determined our government is to stop terrorism.”
Ismael thanked the Malaysian Government for facilitating the agreement between two separatist groups for peace in Mindanao.
The leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) sat at the same table and met President-elect Rodrigo Duterte recently to discuss peace in Mindanao.
“We have finished the negotiations. Now, it is in the implementation stage. We thank the Malaysian Government for facilitating the agreement between separatist groups.”