SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman told Muslim leaders to stop pretending that the terror acts of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are without the knowledge of their host communities.
Hataman aired the call as he condemned the ASG’s recent beheading of German hostage Juergen Kantner in Sulu as an act against the teachings of Islam and against the moral values of the Moro people.
The regional governor said this was the latest of a series of brutal, terrorist attacks meant to strike fear in the hearts of the people.
“Our condemnation against these acts have, time and again, fallen on deaf ears,” he said in exasperation.
He called on his fellow Moros to cooperate with law enforcers by giving the necessary information on the whereabouts of the terrorist group, following fighting in Sulu between the military and the terrorists that resulted in five ASG men killed on Thursday.
Hataman, who has jurisdiction over five provincial governors and two city mayors, urged local officials to assert their mandates and authorities to stop terrorist activities.
“We call on the local government units to assert their authority and to exert all efforts to clamp down on terrorist groups within their jurisdiction,” the ARMM regional governor said.
“We are counting on the local government units to assist and help the military and coordinate with each other. Our joint effort in maintaining peace and order is crucial in ensuring that the welfare and rights of the people are not compromised,” he added.
Hataman said the regional government was committed to support local governments with whatever means necessary to stop terror.
Kantner was reportedly held hostage by men loyal to Muammar Askali, also known as Abu Rami, an ASG commander in Sulu.
The German was kidnapped almost two months ago when he and his wife, Sabine Merz, were cruising in their yacht through an area controlled by the Abu Sayyaf. Merz was reportedly killed when she tried to fight back with a shotgun.
Hataman, who hails from Basilan province, another ASG lair, pointed out this was not the first act of terror committed by the ASG.
“This will not be the last if we continue to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the crimes of those who betray our faith and our people,” Hataman warned.
He appealed to all ARMM residents to join forces and stop the ASG brutalities.
“Let us work together to end this culture of fear and impunity in which the ASG thrives – a culture in which the next murderous act could be the death of our families, our friends, or ourselves,” Hataman warned.