Sunday, July 10, 2016

ASG still accountable for overt acts: Abella

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 9): ASG still accountable for overt acts: Abella

A MalacaƱang official on Saturday emphasized that President Rodrigo R. Duterte does not condone criminal activities of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is still accountable, under the law, for their kidnapping, beheading, and other criminal activities.
Sec. Ernesto Abella. Photo courtesy of
Sec. Ernesto Abella. Photo courtesy of
Abella made the statement after the president said in his speech during the Mindanao Hariraya Eid’l Fit’r 2016 in Davao City on Friday that he did not consider the ASG as a band of criminals. “I am not including Abu Sayaff dito sa criminality. You’ve never heard me say ‘mga kriminal‘,” Duterte said, as he explained that “these are the guys who were driven to desperation.”

According to Duterte, “there was no sufficient semblance of governance (in the region) and that is why they are pushed to the wall, then they became radicalized.”

Abella, when asked how the president’s statement would affect the pursuit of justice for those kidnapped and beheaded by ASG, made it clear that: “Hindi po niya (president) pinapalampas ‘yung mga ginawa nila.” He explained that the president was only trying to explain the context for the ASG’s actions.

“Basically, he was saying that these are people who already have become desperate. In other words, he (Duterte) understands what they are doing, but they still have to answer for their actions,” Abella said. “I believe that was the context of the (president’s) statement. . . hindi lang sila basta crime in the sense of just ordinary bandits, may pinanggagalingan, meron silang motive, kaya lang po they still have to be answerable for the actions,” he added.

The president, in his previous statements, has warned the ASG against continuing its kidnapping activities, saying that “there will always be a time for reckoning.” ASG was already listed by the United Nations Security Council as being associated with Al Qaeda since October 2001. It was also tagged as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the Australian National Security. In 2014, the group also pledged allegiance to the jihadist militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The ASG landed in the limelight again after it kidnapped seven Indonesian sailors in the Sulu Sea last June 22, eight days after it beheaded Canadian hostage Robert Hall in Sulu. Meanwhile, in his speech at the Mindanao Hariraya Eid’l Fit’r 2016, Duterte reiterated his promise to Muslim Filipinos that he bring lasting peace in Mindanao. This, as he also called on them to help him “build a nation that will be founded on peace and understanding”.

Ang tingin ko, with the grace of Allah, I might be able to do this within six years. It will not come overnight. Certainly, it will not come next year. Probably, it will be something about two to three years from now. But I assure you that something will change before I end my term,” said Duterte.

Though pointing out that he would talk first with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the president said that his administration will create a framework for federalism, which would solve the violence in Mindanao. “I’m working overtime with Jun Evasco and the rest to constitute; our group in the government is ready to talk to the MILF and MNLF ,” he said.

He further urged them to talk before doing anything that would spill violence. Eid’l Fit’r, also known as the “festival of breaking the fast”, is a religious holiday of Muslims worldwide, marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

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