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Home Columns Unsolicited Advice Somali Pirates and Abu Sayyaf Kidnappers Are Thankful that President Marcos Lost the 1986 Snap Election
Somali Pirates and Abu Sayyaf Kidnappers Are Thankful that President Marcos Lost the 1986 Snap Election PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Sunday, 19 April 2009 22:51
P erhaps the Somali pirates who have kidnapped for ransom more-than 120 (and counting) Filipino seamen are happy that Ferdinand E. Marcos lost the February 1986 Philippine “snap” presidential elections. The Abu Sayyaf gang members share the same euphoric feeling about Mr. Marcos’ defeat in the said 1986 polls. Why?

 

The pirates and kidnappers are happy that Mr. Marcos’ successors – from Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada to the now-infamously most-corrupt of them all, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – rejected then President Marcos’ policy of procuring modern equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

 

In particular, then President Cory Aquino canceled the Marcos government’s order for five brand-new frigates for the Philippine Navy. Now the Philippines is impotent to join the international patrol in the waters off Somalia by a consortium of countries and even the South China Sea to help protect the world’s merchant marine (including Filipino crew members) from pirate attacks. The Philippine Navy has a few obsolete patrol boats that cannot operate in the high seas – if they can still be made seaworthy. The Abu Sayyaf has in its disposal new sea craft that can outrun the old Philippine Navy hand-me-downs from the United States, if the Philippine vessels do not run out of fuel in the first place. The Philippine Navy does not have ships that can patrol the Basilan Island, the lair of the Abu Sayyaf gang members and keep their sea craft from going in and out of their ports of operations.

 

President Aquino chose to scrap President Marcos’ order for five new frigates with a British shipyard. The British-made frigates would have carried lots of American-made equipment – from diesel engines to armaments. Then the successors of President Aquino decided not to entertain the requests of the Philippine naval officers to revive the Marcos plan to acquire modern vessels such as the said five frigates.

 

H ere are the latest press releases by the Philippine government  -- all datelined from Manila -- about the Somali pirates and the International Red Cross executives who have been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf:

 

* Government steps up effort to rescue Filipino seafarers vs. Somali pirates--Palace official says


T he government is stepping up its efforts to rescue the Filipino seafarers who were kidnapped by the Somali pirates.


Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the government is closely coordinating with the United Nations for a more determined international response to the hijacking of Filipino sailors which has risen to an alarming number.


A Greek merchant ship, M/V Irene with 22 Filipino sailors on board was hijacked last Tuesday, raising to 120 the total number of Filipino seafarers being held captive by Somali pirates since November 2008.


Secretary Remonde said the United Nations, together with United States, the Great Britain, France
and other concerned countries, are in the process of creating an international response to the disturbing hijacking issue.


Likewise, the Press Secretary said the government is in close coordination with concerned foreign authorities, the local manning agencies and the ship owners of the hijacked vessels to secure the early and safe release of the Filipino seafarers.


He said the government has also kept up its efforts to rescue the hostages by "sending our own commanders."


The latest hijacking incident is reportedly the ninth that occurred in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean
since the start of the month. # # #


* Sulu crisis committee taps Muslim Ulamas' help in resolving the hostage situation


T he government's provincial crisis committee in Sulu has sought the help of a group of Ulama to assist in its resolve to secure the release of the two remaining workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) being held as captives by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group in the outskirts of Indanan town.


Marine Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, the designated military spokesman for the Sulu kidnapping crisis, said the crisis committee headed by Sulu Gov. Abdusakkur Tan made the move on Tuesday as part of the government's efforts for the safe release of the two foreign ICRC workers.


"The Provincial Crisis Committee headed by Gov. Abdusakkur Tan dealing with the ICRC kidnapping has commissioned today the help of a group of Ulamas to secure the release of Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter from the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group," he said.


Earlier, Tan declared state of emergency in the entire province that resulted to intensified and coordinated efforts by various government agencies in dealing with the crisis. Such move led to the safe release of Filipina Marie Jean Lacaba by the Abu Sayyaf band of sub-commander Albader Parad.


Arevalo also disclosed reports showing that Vagni could be ill.


"Intelligence reports reveal that Vagni is afflicted with Hernia. This is a medical condition that physicians say could be serious and thus requires immediate medical attention," he said.


The three ICRC workers were snatched by armed men on January 15 after inspecting a project at the Sulu provincial jail in Patikul town. They were subsequently turned over to the Abu Sayyaf band of Parad.


"At this point when the kidnappers have not been clear with their demands and with the health condition of one of the victims threatening, the efforts by the Ulamas can be very crucial," Arevalo explained.


Ulamas are senior leaders in Muslim communities and have the highest respect among their fellow Muslims.


While government security forces continue to apply calibrated pressure on areas identified as lairs of the terrorists in Sulu, Arevalo stressed they remained hopeful for the safe and unconditional release of Vagni and Notter just like what happened to Lacaba.


"We believe in the primacy of life of the kidnapped ICRC workers. We remain optimists looking at every possibility of getting the kidnap victims alive without firefight or bloodshed. Hence, we are supportive of and allow every opportunity for the Crisis Committee to negotiate for the victims’ safe release," the Marine colonel said.


"We share the apprehension of the public that once a military operation is resorted to, and given the harsh realities in the areas of operation, the lives of everyone, not only of the kidnap victims, will be in peril. The lives of marines, police personnel, and civilian emergency forces will likewise be put on the line to save the kidnap victims and destroy the terrorist group –necessarily in that order," he further said.

 

* RP doing its best to help Filipino hostages in Somalia

 


T he Philippine government is doing its best to help and rescue the Filipino seamen abducted and held hostage for ransom in Somalia by Somali pirates.


Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde, in a radio interview Thursday (April 16, 2009), said the government has been working very closely with ship owners and manning companies, who employed the Filipino seamen, to ensure the safety and rescue of the victims.


The latest count puts at 120 the number of Filipino seamen being held hostage by Somali fishermen, who have made piracy a lucrative enterprise that is being bankrolled and encouraged by Somali warlords.


Remonde said the Philippine government has dispatched its own military experts to work with the Filipino seamen’s employers.


Due to the country’s limited capability in addressing international piracy, Remonde said the government focuses its efforts and resources in working things out with manning companies and shipowners employing the Filipino seamen.


He said the government is also working with the United Nations for a "more determined international response" to the Somali piracy scourge.


Remonde said the UN is now in the process of organizing a more comprehensive international response to the hijacking and hostage-taking in the high seas by Somali pirates who have victimized Americans, British, French, Filipinos, and other nationalities. # # #

 

* Philippine Government updates provided by: 

The Philippine Consulate General

3600 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 500

Los Angeles, CA 90010

Tel. (213) 639-0980/Fax (213)639-0990

 Website – www.philippineconsulatela.org 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2009 23:07
 

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"I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three."--Elayne Boosler