Cartoon by Roni Santiago

The Abu Sayyaf terrorist problem in the Philippines is turning from bad to worse, and what is sickeningly alarming is that at present there is no solution in sight.

Incumbent President Noynoy Aquino had announced that his administration is launching a relentless campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), but so far the ASG continues to kidnap and behead its hostages, mostly foreigners. The latest victims were two Canadian nationals, identified as John Ridsdell and Robert Hall, who had been held hostage since September last year.

The execution of the two Canadians has prompted the Philippine government to offer an apology to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. Even US President Obama has expressed condolence to the Canadian people for the senseless killing of the two Canadians who were executed when the ASG ransom demand was not met.

The situation seems so hopeless that Philippine senators are calling on incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to strictly enforce the law against ASG.

Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV said he supports whatever method the incoming President would do to bring the ASG to face the law.

“The atrocities committed by ASG have greatly damaged our country. They have destroyed our image and greatly affected our tourism, economy and the lives of those living in Mindanao,” Aquino said. “It’s time to exhaust all means to crush these bandits at the soonest possible time.”

Aquino said he would support whatever moves the incoming administration would do against the Abu Sayyaf as long as these are within the bounds of the law.

Aquino issued the statements following reports that ASG is threatening to behead another hostage if no ransom is paid. ASG was demanding a P600-million ransom.

In a bid to crush the bandit group, Duterte was reportedly inclined to declare martial law in the provinces of Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi which are believed to be the stronghold of ASG.

During a five-hour meeting with his newly appointed Cabinet officials at the Philippine International Convention Center last week, Duterte was reportedly spewing invectives as he watched the video of the beheading of Canadian hostage Robert Hall, vowing to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf  once he assumes office on June 30.

We join the senators in their call for the incoming President to take decisive actions against the ASG. The campaign to eliminate the group should be done without letup, and all resources needed for the drive should be used.

We suggest the Philippine government tap the assistance of the US military. Drones could be used to spy on the locations of this barbaric group or bomb its mountain lairs.

We also support the imposition of martial law on that part of the country. No stone should be left unturned in the effort to crush this pure evil.


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