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Editorial: Stop calling them 'isolated cases'.

It has been two months since the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Filipina from a beach resort in the Island Garden City of Samal in the middle of Davao Gulf. At the time it happened, a MalacaAaAaAeA~ang spokesman sought to minimize the kidnapping as "a ve isolated case."

For weeks nothing further was heard about the kidnapping. Then the Abu Sayyaf released photos of the kidnap victims, surrounded by masked armed men, with one of the gang holding a bolo close to one victim's neck. With the picture that was released to the world via Internet, our worst fears were confirmed.

Along with the picture was the kidnap gang's demand for ransom of P3 billion for the three foreigners. Then last Monday, the Abu Sayyaf announced the release of two Malaysians they had kidnapped in May, after the victims' families allegedly paid ransom of P30 million.

When the Samal kidnapping was first reported in September, fears were expressed about its repercussions on Mindanao tourism and investments. Indeed, how can it be "more fun in the Philippines" when a tourist center like Samal, just a few minutes by ferry from Davao City, could be so easily penetrated by an armed group with links to the Islamic State of the Middle East? Each day that passes, the danger to the lives of the victims increases, along with a sense that the government seems impotent to maintain security and order within its borders.

And the end is not in sight. The two Malaysians were kept hostage for six months before agreement on ransom was reached. In the 2001 kidnapping of the Burnhams in Palawan, it took a year before the military was able to rescue Grace Burnham but her missionary husband was killed in the operation. We may have to resign ourselves to a similarly extended period of uncertainty over the fate of the Samal kidnap victims.

Clearly there is much that needs to be done about security in Mindanao. In the meantime, government spokesmen should stop commenting that these kidnappings and similar incidents are just "isolated cases."


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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 13, 2015
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