AFP to deploy K-9 units to track down abductors of 2 Germans
by Mario J. Mallari
Published in tribune.net
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is exerting more pressure against the Abu Sayyaf group, particularly in Sulu province where foreign hostages are believed to being held by the terrorists.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP-Public Affairs Office chief, yesterday said that aside from the fresh troops inserted by the military to Sulu, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the deployment of K9 units to assist troops track down the Abu Sayyaf.
Cabunoc said the move is part of the efforts to put pressure against the Abu Sayyaf.
He stressed that the military’s paramount concern is the safety of all the hostages of the terrorist group, not only Germans Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Herike Diesen, 55, who appealed to both the Philippine and German governments earlier for their freedom.
“The CSAFP (chief of staff, AFP) has directed different units of the AFP to compose K9 tracking unit in order to help locate the Abu Sayyaf bandits,” Cabunoc said.
“The intent is to put pressure on them and possibly leading to the release of the hostages or rescue due to the pressure…this goes for all the hostages regardless of their nationalities,” he added.
Cabunoc said that the deployment of K9 would help troops track down Abu Sayyaf.
“The presence of the tracking dogs would help to maintain accurate movements of our troops…and to contain them (ASG) into smaller area,” Cabunoc said.
Earlier, the AFP redeployed members of the 501st Brigade to Zamboanga, where troops were sent to Sulu to augment the 2nd Marine Brigade.
Cabunoc, however, maintained that the military is fully supportive of the efforts of the crisis management committee, composed of government officials from different agencies, in its efforts to address the kidnapping issue.
He stressed the government’s “no negotiation policy” with terrorists.
“We support the government position not negotiate with terrorists but we will work closely with the local crisis management committee which is also tasked to facilitate whatever actions necessary to be carried out in the ground,” Cabunoc said.
Cabunoc said the AFP chief reminded troops that the safety of the hostages should be the primary consideration.
“The chief of staff has ensured that the primary concern of the AFP is to make these actions as safe as possible for the hostages…to ensure that nothing will happen on the hostages,” he said.
Cabunoc cited the deployment in 2000 of troops from the 59th Infantry Battalion and Light Reaction Battalion, composed of the Scout Rangers and Special Forces, to apply pressure against the band of Ghalib Andang, alias Commander Ronot, who was holding 13 members of the Jesus Miracle Crusade as hostages.