From the Mindanao Examiner (May 20): Anti-Sayyafs ops continue in Sulu
SULU – Security forces continued its operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province in southern Philippines. The offensive just after the notorious group freed two policewomen it kidnapped last month in Patikul town.
Police officers Bennie Rose Alvarez and Dinah Gumahad were freed near Patikul town where rebels seized them April 29 along with two other civilians Jakosalem Blas and Faizal Ahidji who had been earlier released.
They were travelling on a motorcycle taxi when about a dozen gunmen flagged down their vehicle in Liang village in Patikul town and took them away. Police have identified the gang’s leader as Mujir Yada.
The release of the officers came days after national police chief Oscar Albayalde visited Sulu and inspected police forces and had a meeting with Governor Totoh Tan. Albayalde has fetched the policewomen who are assigned with the crime laboratory and engineering department.
Police did not say if ransom had been paid for the release of the captives, but the Abu Sayyaf had originally demanded P5 million for the freedom of both Alvarez and Gumahad.
It was unknown why no policemen and soldiers were guarding the highway or why authorities failed to prevent the kidnappings despite an extended martial rule on the whole southern region.
Tan repeatedly rallied his mayors to work hard in protecting their communities and repeatedly ordered authorities to impose a tighter security in the Sulu and for the military to help police in maintaining peace and order in the province.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has removed last year the supervision of the local executives over the police, which relied heavily on the support of local governments in their campaign against criminality.
Just recently, two government soldiers were killed and at least 12 wounded in fierce battle with the Abu Sayyaf during a rescue mission in Patikul. The soldiers were members of the 5th Scout Ranger who clashed with Abu Sayyaf commanders Hajan Sawadjaan, Idang Susukan, Injam Yadah and Ben Quirino in the village called Tanum.