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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Duterte off to KL today, kidnapping tops agenda

President Rodrigo Duterte flies to Kuala Lumpur today (Wednesday) with several issues at hand, including the Abu Sayyaf menace that has affected not only the Philippines, but neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia as well.

Dozens of Malaysians and Indonesians have fallen victim to kidnappings and sea piracy blamed on the Abu Sayyaf in recent years.

Mr. Duterte is expected to push for a joint action against the Abu Sayyaf when he meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. He had earlier agreed with Indonesian President Joko Widodo that a more concerted effort was needed to crush the group, which currently holds several foreign hostages.


The president has said it was important for the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to come together in finding a solution to the Abu Sayyaf problem.

His trip comes shortly after the Abu Sayyaf took responsibility for abducting a German man and killing his female companion off the southern island province of Tawi-tawi over the weekend. The group has also beheaded two Canadian captives earlier this year.

The ragtag band of self-styled Islamists has recently pledged allegiance to the Daesh or Islamic State.  In the past, it also had connections with the Jemaah Islamiyah and was considered among terror groups operating in Southeast Asia.


A Malaysian online news source said Malaysians would also be closely watching the Duterte-Najib meeting due to the Philippine president’s pronouncement during the elections that he was recognizing the Sulu sultanate’s claim over Sabah.

Kuala Lumpur has maintained that the ownership of Sabah had long been settled and that it has sovereignty over it now.

In 1962, Britain set up the Cobbold Commission to determine if the people of North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak supported the creation of the the Federation of Malaysia. The federation proposal included Malaya (Malaysia), Brunei, Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak. —Allan Nawal

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