Abu Sayyaf Scores hat-trick

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 , 14:50:00 WIB - International

Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi. The government stresses that it will take stern actions against the Abu Sayyaf group, who have kidnapped another seven Indonesian nationals. (Edy Susanto/Gresnews.com)

JAKARTA, GRES.NEWS – The Abu Sayyaf militant group has abducted more Indonesian sailors. This time, they intercepted vessel Charles 001 in Sulu Waters, Philippines, Monday (20/6), and took seven crewmembers. The perpetrators were divided into two groups. The first group took three crewmembers while the second took four. Meanwhile, six other crewmembers were left alone.

This is the third hostage incident and has made the government’s task to free Indonesians who are being held as hostages by the group more challenging. Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the government will form a special team to attempt to free the Indonesian hostages.

"Our team is working on it right now. The Crisis Center is working under (the coordination) of the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Police. We are looking for solutions," said Kalla, South Jakarta, Saturday (25/6).

Jusuf Kalla pointed out that the government will find ways to free the seven Indonesians. "We will find ways to free them. The Philippines government has also given their word to work hard to handle the problem," he said. "Yes, Duterte (the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte) said he will work hard. He said he wants to be hard on them," added.

Freeing the hostages will not be easy, particularly since the hostages are divided into two separate groups. The first group is carrying three hostages while the second group has two hostages.

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said the Abu Sayyaf group has already demanded a ransom, but Luhut refused to mention the amount. "They have asked for ransom. We are verifying the figures," Luhut said at his office in Jakarta, Friday (24/6).

This is the third hostage incident involving Abu Sayyaf and Indonesian sailors and questions now arise from the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives Commission I Vice Chairman Tubagus Hasanuddin criticizes the government’s performance.

Tubagus Hasanuddin, who used to be a major general of the Indonesian Army (TNI) said he has three questions: first, Indonesia used to be very tolerant of pirates as the country used to be willing to pay ransoms to save hostages.

"However, the pirates took advantage of the government’s weakness to take more hostages," Hasanuddin said, to gres.news, Saturday (25/6).

On the other hand, Hasanuddin questions how far have the government gone to conduct preventive measures, namely through patrols? "The second question, what happened to the joint patrol? It has been running ineffectively. What have been agreed in the MoU?" he said.

Furthermore, Hasanuddin also questions the decision from the crewmembers to cross dangerous waters. "The third question is, how come the crewmembers failed to coordinate and request an escort from a security force, for instance, the Indonesian Navy? How did this happen again?" he said.

The threat from armed militias in South Philippines has greatened, following the series of abductions of foreign nationals. Hasanuddin is pressing the government to intensify joint patrols with neighboring countries.

"We need to introduce a regulation that requires crewmembers to report and ask for sea escort whenever they intend to cross dangerous waters," he said. (dtc)