Kidnap gang leader's mother threatened with banishment
Raissa Robles in Manila
The mother of a gang leader who kidnapped six Christians last week and beheaded two of them has been threatened with banishment from her island home if the captives are not freed.
Patikul town mayor Hasser Hayudini, the government's official negotiator, has told the mother of gang leader Muin Sahiron that if the four female hostages are not released unharmed soon, her family and those of the 14 other gang members will be banished from the southern island of Jolo.
Yusop Jikiri, governor of Sulu province, which includes Jolo, said yesterday: 'To punish the families of the kidnappers themselves, that is the intention of the mayor of Patikul if the hostages are not released unharmed and without ransom.' Patikul was where the hostage-taking took place on Tuesday and where the abductors' families are believed to live.
Letting the sins of the sons fall on their families is not in the Philippine penal code but is a traditional form of punishment among the fierce Tausug tribe inhabiting Sulu.
Governor Jikiri justified this unusual form of punishment. He said the entire island of Jolo would suffer if the victims were not released.
Military officials had given local officials until Wednesday to negotiate a release or suffer an all-out military assault on the island.
'It's harvest time,' Governor Jikiri said. 'Millions of pesos will be lost with a military operation.'
The island produces high-value fruits such as durian and mangosteen.
The military still insisted yesterday that the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf, which it had declared 'crushed' last month, played no part in the abduction. Defence Secretary Angelo Reyes blamed 'drug addicts' who had turned to crime to support their habit.
This information was apparently not shared with Foreign Secretary Blas Ople. In Kuala Lumpur, he said the Abu Sayyaf had staged the incident to embarrass the government.
Governor Jikiri could not categorically say the perpetrators were not Abu Sayyaf.
'According to our source of information, this guy [Muin Sahiron] is a drug addict,' he said.
'Some people say this Muin is organising his group separately [from Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron] although he is a blood relation of Radulan, but perhaps that is the speculation because he has always refused to adhere to Radulan's advice.'
Nevertheless, the governor believes the group shares the Abu Sayyaf philosophy that justifies beheading unbelievers of Islam.