ZAMBOANGA CITY: The reigning Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo has condemned the series of kidnappings in Sulu province, urging residents to stay vigilant, and warning them against spreading accusations against local leaders who have been tagged behind the abductions.
“As the reigning Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, I am condemning this act of crime to the highest degree and I am calling my constituents to be vigilant for only these kidnappers will benefit from false and unfounded accusations,” Sultan Muedzul-Lail Kiram said.
He said some sectors in the province are pointing to the local government, the military and the police being behind the kidnappings.
“This is a baseless accusation for I am in constant touch with these authorities concerning the peace and order of the province. I would like to appeal to the people to refrain from issuing such baseless statements,” Kiram said.
“[Authorities] are doing their best to solve this problem or perhaps eradicate it. One thing we know for sure [is that]the kidnappers are the one feeding you these false information and to capitalize on the situation,” he added.
Kiram also branded the spate of kidnappings in the Muslim province as “un-Islamic in any perspective.”
He said even ordinary citizens are being kidnapped and ransomed off for a small amount of cash.
Because of the kidnappings, some residents are reportedly arming themselves and forming vigilante groups.
Kiram, however, said such move could further complicate matters in Sulu.
“Some concerned citizens are now trying to arm themselves and form a vigilante group [and it’s like an eye for an eye, a]tooth for a tooth. There is nothing wrong with the vigilantes, but what is wrong is when they will put the law into their hands and the more it will complicate the matters,” he said.
Call for vigilance
Earlier, the Sulu Area Coordination Center (SACC) appealed to residents to cooperate and be vigilant in their day-to-day activities.
“Please report to authorities any suspicious persons or activities in your community. Your cooperation in crime prevention is very important,” it said.
“The relentless barrage of evil acts by lawless and dubious elements against peace-loving communities of Sulu can never cow the Tausug residents and their authorities to stoop down to mimic their ill-fated ways. Some call for oppressive interventions, in clear endorsement to imitate their preferred style, as a means for reprisal against those criminals. But Sulu’s leadership and its network of allies for peace and development will never ever deviate from the rule of law and respect for human rights that is the better option,” the Center earlier pronounced.
The SACC—built during the time of then Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu—is where various agencies converge to address issues, resolve conflicts and find the best solution to current problems besetting the province. It is headed by local government officials and lists the military and police as members.