Hours before deadline, AFP given ‘green light’

Hours before the deadline set by Abu Sayyaf group, Joint Task Group Sulu Commander Col. Allan Arrojado said they have been given a green light for law enforcement operations against the terror group. A special action committee, formed by the Provincial Peace and Order Council chaired by Sulu Governor Totoh Tan, gave the permission.

ASG gave the Philippine government until 3 pm of Friday, October 17 to give PhP250 million in exchange of two German hostages. If the demand is not met, the group threatens to behead one German hostage Stefan Viktor Okonek.

Exact details and timeline of the operations were not disclosed. Philippine National Police will help the military to serve warrant of arrest for ASG leaders and members who are behind several kidnappings.

“Although we expect the worst case scenario, we are ready to [carry out] the all out law enforcement operations,” task group commander Arrojado said as reported by a state-run news agency. The operations’ main priority is the safety of hostages.

“The Philippine government is exerting all efforts to secure the safe release of the German hostages. We shall continue to pursue this objective,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“We are prepared to conduct rescue. We are just awaiting orders,” AFP Chief General Catapang said earlier this week.