SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: An Army soldier who was a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebel integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was abducted on Thursday by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), identified the soldier as Staff Sergeant Anni Siraji of the 32nd Infantry Battalion (32nd IB) under Joint Task Force Sulu.
He was forcibly taken by at least seven armed men at about 9:30 a.m. on the road to Igasan, Patikul, Sulu.
A platoon from the 32nd IB was dispatched to conduct hot pursuit and blocking operations at the area where the abductors fled.
“The recent abduction involving our soldier should not be a reason for us to back out but should further motivate us to continue our relentless and sustained focus military operations against the ASG and the rescue of all kidnap victims,” Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said.
Patikul, a known stronghold of the ASG terrorists, is a main target area of military offensives for three months now.
Siraji, a Tausug, was among many former MNLF rebels who joined the AFP when Chairman Nur Misuari signed the final peace agreement with the government on September 2, 1996.
A salient provision of the agreement was the integration of former MNLF rebels into the AFP.
“It is frustrating that a Tausug soldier, who wants a peaceful community and working for it really hard so that an influx of progress will come to his home province, will have to be a victim of the bandits. Obviously, the Abu Sayyaf can victimize anyone, even someone from their own tribe,” the Western Mindanao Command chief, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., said.
“For now, we will continue to hunt the perpetrators and the rest of the Abu Sayyaf. We will not stop until we get our soldier back to his family,” Galvez added.