AFP denies links with ASG bandits

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) strongly denied on Saturday allegations that some of its officers are in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits.

“Our armed forces and police have been at the forefront of the fight against all KFRGs (kidnapping-for-ransom groups) and the ASG for a long time. We have lost so many servicemen in the process. We do not doubt the dedication and commitment of our troops,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

In addition, commanders on the ground are in full control of all troops and are focused on their primary mission of getting these criminals and saving the hostages, he added.

“There is also an established system to ensure no spies and traitors are in our ranks. There also exists strong measures to deal with those found to have violated their oath,” Padilla stressed.

The allegations came in the wake of the beheading of Canadian Robert Hall last June 13. Hall was one of the four persons kidnapped in Samal Island last Sept. 21.

A companion, John Ridsel, was beheaded last April 26 after the Philippine and Canadian government snubbed the bandits’ Php300 million ransom demand.

The AFP spokesperson said these accusations can undermine government efforts against these criminals.

“And we will hold the one who released the statement accountable if they can’t substantiate their allegations. Local government officials are at the lead of addressing peace and order in their communities with the police and the AFP as partners,” he added.

Padilla said this cooperation is the cornerstone in coming up with a permanent solution to this perennial problem of lawlessness.

“Local officials should also come up with socioeconomic plans that can help the locals veer away from supporting these crime groups mascarading as Robin Hoods when they share the money received from kidnapping. After all, peace and order is their primary responsibility in their respective provinces,” he pointed out. PNA / northboundasia.com