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Friday, April 26, 2019

Duterte advised Malaysian businessmen to keep off Zamboanga for now

KOTA KINABALU - It is not advisable for Malaysian businessmen, investors and those involved in non-conventional commercial trading activities, especially those from Sabah, and other holidaymakers to visit Zamboanga City and nearby areas for now.

This follows an advice from Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (pic) to both locals and foreigners against travelling to Zamboanga for now as he raised the atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf against foreigners.

He gave the statement at the 7th Union Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Pasay City, which was attended by health experts in the region.

“There is a certain place – Zamboanga - which I would not recommend anyone to go there, not just as yet,” he said.

“Some Europeans go there for bird watching and they are captured and eventually decapitated even after the payment of ransom. It’s the ISIS actually. It used to be the Abu Sayyaf, a band of brigands, but now it’s an Abu Sayyaf territory.”

Duterte also lambasted Abu Sayyaf’s ideology, which he said was “nothing but to kill and destroy.”

“That’s mass insanity,” he said.

Early this month, Duterte said the Islamic State would not be able to gain foothold during his administration because of the military’s efforts to thwart them.

Some foreign governments such as Australia and the United Kingdom have asked their citizens to exercise a high degree of caution whenever they travel to the Philippines, especially in parts of Mindanao.

The entire island group has been under martial law since ISIS-inspired Maute rebels made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a caliphate for the terror organisation in 2017.

The Warisan-led Sabah Government had announced the revival of barter trading with southern Philippines and Indonesia, effective April 1.

Many local businessmen welcomed the Government’s decision and expect added revenues for Sabah in the near future.

On her part, Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar said security was tight in the city and assured locals that police and military forces were on heightened alert.

“We heightened security in Zamboanga City and will continue to maintain this as a pre-emptive measure following the Sri Lanka bombings,” she added.

There have been no kidnappings of foreign birdwatchers in Zamboanga City, but in February 2012, Abu Sayyaf terrorists under Hajan Sawadjaan and suspected Moro National Liberation Front members kidnapped two European wildlife photographers, Lorenzo Vinciguerra from Switzerland and Ewold Horn from Holland, in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town, Tawi-Tawi.

Vinciguerra escaped from his guards and was recovered by soldiers in December 2014 after he allegedly killed one of his guards, Juhurim Hussien, with a bolo (single-edged knife).

The fate of Horn is still unknown. - DE

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