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ARMM polls won’t sideline pursuit of Abu Sayyaf

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:19:00 07/08/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Pursuit operations against the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, including the kidnappers of a television news crew, will continue even during next month’s elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), security officials said Tuesday.

Elite troops are scouring Jolo Island in Sulu, a province within the ARMM, for the Abu Sayyaf members who kidnapped News anchor Ces Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama, and their guide, Mindanao State University (MSU) professor Octavio Dinampo, on June 8.

The hostages were released after a P5-million ransom while the main negotiators, Indanan town Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son, Haider, have been charged for allegedly masterminding the abduction and pocketing P3 million. The elder Isnaji is a candidate for ARMM governor.

The complaint does not bar Isnaji from running because, “based on the law you can only be prevented from running of you have been convicted by final judgment,” Commission on Elections executive director Jose Tolentino said.
“The operation is continuing until such time that all the suspects are accounted for [and] neutralized. There will be no suspensions even during elections, unless there is an order from competent authorities,” Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, ARMM regional police director, told reporters in Camp Crame.

Brigadier General Romeo Lustestica, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for operations, said the military is also not suspending pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf because of the ARMM elections.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-07-08T07:56:40+00:00UTC07bUTCTue, 08 Jul 2008 07:56:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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