Philippine govt says hostage appeal an Abu Sayyaf tactic

Mohd-Ridzuan-IsmailPETALING JAYA: The telephone calls made to The Star and release of photographs showing Malaysian hostages are part of the militant group Abu Sayyaf’s tactic to force the Philippine army to relent from on-going efforts to free the captives.

According to a statement by the Philippine government, the pictures and phone calls were also meant to “stir up and play on” the emotions of the victims’ families and employers and pressure them to pay the ransom.

“The payment of ransom is counter-productive, as any amount handed over will provide the requisite logistics for the next kidnapping attempts in coming days and weeks, and will foster the criminal enterprise of the group and their cohorts anchored on kidnapping-for-ransom and terrorism,” the Philippine government said in a statement released by its embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

A report in The Star today showed one of the hostages, Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, pleading for the Malaysian government to rescue him and four other hostages from the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Ridzuan, who was one of five Malaysians abducted by Abu Sayyaf in waters off Lahad Datu on July 18, told the daily of the nightmarish conditions he faced in captivity, including enduring starvation and beatings.

According to the report, Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami contacted The Star, from Jolo island, in southern Philippines and passed the phone to Ridzuan to relay a message to the Malaysian Government.

In the eight-minute conversation, the sailor from Pahang, asked the Malaysian Government and his employer to rescue him and the other hostages.

Aside from Ridzuan, 32, the other hostages are Sabahans, Tayudin Anjut, 45, Abd Rahim Summas, 62, Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23, and Fandy Bakran, 26.

The Embassy went on to state that the claim by the terrorist that there was no military presence where the hostages were being kept was an attempt at misdirection.

The number of police and military men currently in the island, it clarified, were “at its highest in decades”.

“This claim is meant to mask the immense military pressure that has been made to bear on them, which has already led to the escape or recovery of other kidnap victims, notably Filipina Edrina Manalas Bonsil on August 18, Indonesians Mohamed Sayfan and Ismail on the same day, and Filipina Tina Yee on September 21.”

Philippine authorities, it added, were working closely with their Malaysian counterparts in sharing intelligence and other information in the effort to secure an early, safe recovery of the hostages.