An Army general in charge of Sulu has been relieved of his post amid recent kidnappings and the military’s intensified campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.
Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, former commander of Joint Task Group Sulu, confirmed his relief on Tuesday but answered “no comment” when asked for details.
“It’s okay. We are soldiers. We just follow orders,” he said.
Arrojado said he will keep his concurrent position as commander of Army’s 501st Brigade in Sulu.
The Facebook post of Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS) on Tuesday announced the relief of Arrojado and his deputy Brig. Gen. Jose Cabanban.
“Orders have been issued for my relief as CJTGS and the relief of BGEN Cabanban as DCJTGS,” the post said.
Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, commander of Joint Task Force Zamboanga, has been named the new Sulu commander.
The Army and General Headquarters in Manila had no immediate information when sought for comment.
Arrojado was pulled out of his Abra assignment in late 2014 to take over the island province of Sulu.
In 2015, the AFP in Sulu said 16 kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf held in their stronghold were either released, escaped, rescued or retrieved.
Last November, the terror group beheaded its Malaysian hostage, prompting President Benigno Aquino III to order intensified operations against the militants.
Authorities would still not confirm if the four hostages in Samal Island in Davao del Norte (two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina) and the Italian national abducted in Dipolog last October were taken to Sulu.
The relief also happens as the deadline for the ransom for the Samal hostages, which cost P1 billion per head, is scheduled on April 8.
The kidnapping of 10 Indonesian crew members on a tugboat last week is also blamed to the Abu Sayyaf based in Sulu although there is still no confirmation to these reports. JE
Abu Sayyaf gunmen and captives kept on the move
KOTA KINABALU - Abu Sayyaf gunmen with their four Malaysian captives on Jolo island are constantly on the run from Philippine security forces, said an anti-kidnapping activist.
Prof Octovio Dinampo said the group landed near the coastal village of Indanan about two days ago, after snatching the Malaysian sailors from a tugboat at sea.
Since then, they have been on the run in the mountainous interior of Patikul, he said.
He said villagers had seen the sailors from the tugboat Massive 6 and the gunmen.
“It is a tough situation for the four. They are in unfamiliar territory and constantly being forced to move,” Dinampo said.
He said the gunmen have not made any ransom demands for the release of the seamen, who are from Sarawak.
This was likely because the military operations were keeping the Abu Sayyaf group busy, he said.
The sailors were snatched near Pulau Ligitan, off Semporna, on Friday.
The gunmen are believed to be led by a veteran cross-border kidnapper known as Apo Mike.
Philippine and Malaysian authorities have yet to receive word on the four men.
The Abu Sayyaf are also holding 10 Indonesian sailors, grabbed a week earlier from another tugboat, Brahman 12, on Jolo.