|Schilling roaming in Jolo?
SULU, (ABS-CBN) -- The military is
closely investigating intelligence reports that supposed Abu Sayyaf captive American
Jeffrey Schilling has been recently spotted roaming around in Jolo, Sulu.
Intelligence reports in Camp Aguinaldo said Schilling was seen
in Jolo last Tuesday without any armed escort, bolstering earlier suspicions that the
Afro-American national may indeed be a willing victim of the terrorist group.
The report, however, failed to indicate what Schilling was
doing in the Sulu capital.
"We have no verified information on his (Schilling's)
supposed sighting but our agents are still on it," said a military intelligence
One of two remaining capitives, Schilling is believed to be
under the Abu Sayyaf faction of Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sabaya, the outspoken
spokeperson of the terrorist group.
The other captive is Filipino Rolando Ullah, the remnant of
the 21 mostly foreign hostages taken from Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia last April 23.
Schilling's abduction in late August was widely perceived as a
gimmick of the bandit group following reports that prior to the "kidnapping,"
the burly American was reportedly negotiating the sale of sophisticated weapons to the Abu
The suspicion further heightened after it was learned that
Schilling's girlfriend is a cousin of Sabaya, whose group was behind the abduction of 31
schoolchildren, teachers and a Roman Catholic priest in Basilan last March 20.
Sabaya's group later fled to Jolo when the military launched
its rescue operations on September 16. A total of 203 rebels have been killed, 173
captured and 260 surrendered since the start of military operations last September.
On the other hand, 12 soldiers and civilian volunteers have
died with 53 others wounded amid various encounters with the rebel group.
A total of 719 rebel firearms have either been recovered or
destroyed by pursuing government forces.
The extremist Abu Sayyaf group will not be covered by the
military's suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) that will start on December
1 in Mindanao, Malacañang stressed Friday.
Abu Sayyaf not covered by ceasefire
Earlier, Secretary Orlando Mercado of the Department of
National Defense (DND) said the military's suspension of offensive military operations
(SOMO) against Mindanao rebel groups does not cover the extremist Abu Sayyaf group.
Mercado said the SOMO only covers the Moro Islamic Liberation
"Ang Abu Sayyaf di kasama sa SOMO, MILF lang. Tuloy
ang operations laban sa Abu Sayyaf (Only the MILF, and not the Abu Sayyaf, will be
covered by the SOMO. Our operations against the Abu Sayyaf will continue)," Mercado
said in a radio interview.
He said pursuit operations are continuing against Abu Sayyaf
extremists still holding American national Jeffrey Schilling and Filipino Roland Ullah.
"Siguro hopefully before the end of the year matatapos
na ito (Hopefully, we can finally close this chapter on the hostage incident before
the year ends)," Mercado said.
In the meantime, Mercado said the government continues to
conduct back-channel talks with the MILF to woo it back to the negotiating table.
He said the government panel headed by Ret. Gen. Edgardo
Batenga has reported "encouraging" signs about the chances of the MILF resuming
the stalled peace talks.
"Mukhang maganda-ganda bagama't mahirap pa. Meron
tayong cessation of offensive military operations starting Dec. 1 hanggang pagkatapos ng
Bagong Taon (The efforts seem encouraging though it will not be easy. But we have a
SOMO starting Dec. 1 until after New Year)," he said.
Back to Sipadan/Pandanan Hostages News
to This Week's Borneo News