PH, Indonesia share intelligence to free Abu Sayyaf hostages
INDONESIA—The Indonesian Military (TNI) has communicated with its Philippine counterpart to collect information on the militant group that is holding 10 Indonesian sailors hostage.
Two Indonesian-flagged vessels, Brahma 12 and Anand 12, which were manned by a total of 10 crewmen and carrying a combined 7,000 tons of coal, were hijacked by members of hardline Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in Philippine waters near Borneo Island.
The boats departed for Batangas in South Philippines from the Puting river in South Kalimantan.
The company that owns the boats, Patria Maritime Lines, is still trying to negotiate the release of the crew from the captors, who have asked for a ransom of 50 million pesos (US$1.08 million) and set a five-day deadline for payment, beginning on March 26.
Earlier reports suggested the hostages had been taken to Sulu.
TNI chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said on Wednesday that the militant group consisted of several factions, and his recent communication with Philippine military chief Hernando Ireberri was focused on finding out which faction had abducted the sailors.
Gatot said his office had not decided whether to launch a joint military operation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to search for the hostages, adding that information about the faction responsible would determine their response.
“We will provide whatever assistance [the AFP] needs. We are waiting for information from the Philippine military and will exchange [useful] information [to help it locate the group] ,” Gatot told journalists at the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.
He dismissed reports that the TNI has been building up its forces in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, following the kidnapping.
“Since it is inside Philippine’s territory, it is the Philippine Navy that has the authority to conduct a rescue operation,” he said.
Gatot also said the military would not take any action before it received news from the Foreign Ministry, which is leading negotiations with the hijackers.Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir has previously said the ministry was unable to give comment, including providing information about possible means to rescue the hostages. Due to the sensitivity of the issue, he added, any misleading information might put the lives of the men at stake.
Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the Foreign Ministry’s director for the protection of Indonesian nationals and entities abroad, said the Indonesian government had consulted with all relevant parties in order to step up its efforts to release the hostages.
Charlos Barahama and Sofitje Salemwuring, the parents of boat captain, Peter Tonsen Barahama, publicly expressed their worries after learning that their son was captured by the terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance with the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
“We are sure Peter will be freed soon. All things happen under God’s watch and God must help release him,” Charlos said.
Badrus Sholeh, an international relations expert from Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University said Manila should open the door for other countries to become involved in handling the release operation.
“Given the fact that Abu Sayyaf has pledged alliance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the abduction is not [just] Manila’s domestic problem anymore,” he said.
Subscribe to our global nation newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.