The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is on alert following reports of alleged kidnapping of two Indonesian fishermen in waters off Sabah, Malaysia.
“Naka-alert ‘yung tropa ng Joint Task Force INDOMALPHI sa Tawi-Tawi at Naval Forces Western Mindanao kung totoo nga. Naka-bakod talaga tayo,” Col. Gerry Besana spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command said Wednesday.
He said they are still validating “sketchy” reports of two armed men abducting two Indonesian fishermen aboard a fishing vessel off Sabah early Tuesday. They reportedly ran away using a pump boat towards an unknown location.
“Hindi pa validated ‘yung report. Itinawag lang although may identity na binigay until now hindi pa validated ‘yung report. Hindi pa alam ang whereabouts kasi nasa labas pa rin natin wala pa rin tayo magagawa,” Besana said.
Quoting a police official from a report of Malaysia’s The Star, the suspects were believed to be Filipinos.
While there were no suspects identified, the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf Group is known for kidnappings and bombings in southern Philippines.
“We are waiting for the update from our forces along the border. They are on the lookout if the perpetrators went to our area of responsibility,” Besana said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told INQUIRER.net that this could be the first kidnapping incident in the Sulu-Celebes Seas since the trilateral patrols of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia was launched last year.
He said he will meet his counterparts from Indonesia and Malaysia in the coming days to discuss terrorism and how to improve coordination and sharing of information.
The joint air and maritime operations were launched amid security challenges linked to the country’s maritime borders such as terrorism, kidnapping, and transnational crimes. /kga
3 Indonesian fishermen feared kidnapped in waters off Sabah