Late last year 2013 in November, the Treasurer of the Province of Sulu, Mr Jesus Cabelin was kidnapped right inside his safe house in the Capitol Ground, Patikul, Sulu.
The presence of his arm guards and other helpers in the house seemed inutile to stop the razor-like kidnapping specialty of the "ASG".
The Provincial Capitol with its armed guards was just a few meters away from the Staff House of the Provincial Treasurer.
A few meters beyond the Building of the Capitol is the Sulu Provincial Jail House.
The kidnappers, which allegedly rode in an unmark Jeep, passed by many Military and Police detachments, but everyone missed out the incident.
ASG was in a kidnapping spree in 2013 to early 2014. There must be a lot of unreported and undocumented cases of kidnapping in Sulu, but here is the list of the documented ones in GMA NEWS Online:
- Armed men abduct DPWH truck driver, helper in Sulu
- Kidnapped DOTC engineer in Sulu freed — military
- Indie filmmakers abducted in Sulu showcased Moro pride in their work
- Trader's son kidnapped in Sulu
- Sulu kidnap victim escapes abductors
- Abu Sayyaf abduct provincial treasurer in Sulu
- Armed men grab couple in Sulu; military suspects Abu Sayyaf
- 2 kids, nanny, driver abducted in Sulu
- Driver loses life after thwarting abduction of public school teachers in Sulu
- And so on and so forth.
The low incidence of recorded kidnapping
The official records in Jolo Police Station, however, has only two incidences of Kidnapping. That was because the kidnapping might have happened outside the periphery of Jolo according to one official.
Doc Raden Ikbala, the leader in BassaKao, discussed with the former Chief of Jolo Police Leva-Ley Lami-ing as to why was that so in this video.
Civilians become fearful
Because of the many incidents of kidnapping cases, of which many of them were unreported, the civilian population has reached the breaking point last March 2014. It must be admitted that some report of kidnapping incidents were indeed hoaxes, it still could not hide the ugly truth that there was a spate of kidnappings in Sulu.
The civilians went to the street and proclaim their hatred against kidnapping in March 14, 2014. There was an attempt to quell the rally, but by Allah's grace, it had pushed through.
One of the student leader, Mudzna Kahal, expressed in a very emotional way how she and the other students become affected by the spates of kidnapping in this video:
Miss Mudzna Kahal explained why was it so in this video:
But why quell the rally?
Firstly, it would "destroy" the image of Sulu, which might stop the development projects currently in full force. Okay, that's a cool reason, but we have been actually trying in our FB pages to show how beautiful Jolo really is, and hoping that foreigners will come visit Jolo. But if we are really comfortable of Sulu as a leader, why is there a need to discourage foreigners, especially the media, from coming down to Sulu?
Secondly, the Cocoy Tulawie's case was in full swing in March. The rally was mistakenly thought as a political rally, in the sense that, it might publicly call out support for the Cocoy Tulawie's case. Instead, we publicly declared in the rostrum at the Plaza Marina in Jolo during the Rally:
"Bang kita ha kawasa, ayaw natu' usalun in pagkidnap hasupaya hikalamma sin manga political rivalries natu'. Iban bang kita isab bukun ha kawasa, ayaw natu' usalun in issues of kidnapping ha supaya hipanghina' ha tau ha kawasa."
Thirdly, the BassaKao was trying to "high-falutinate" (nagpalaggu sin sibi'-sibi') the issue of kidnapping for their self-serving interests. Cool, but the issues of kidnapping were a recurrent issues. But there was no attempt from any government in Sulu to stop the problem. The kidnapped victims were released, but then, what would be our assurance that they won't get kidnapped another day?
Reactive not Pro-active
The solutions of our government in Sulu against kidnapping is only reactive. It is just waiting for someone to get kidnapped, then do something later.
What was their favorite course of action in February and March during the spate of kidnapping incidence? Peace and Order meetings and dialogues.
In the surface that's OK. It brings to mind, however, what Marcos has said, "We could not afford deadlocks. . . We could not afford waiting for the help while we Filipinos are dying."
When the Provincial Treasurer was kidnapped, the action made was to destroy all the informal settlers' houses living within the periphery of the Treasurer's Staff House.
This video was just after the kidnapping of the Treasurer. The informal settlers surrounding the capitol ground had been ordered to pack their things and leave unceremoniously.
Negotiations with the Settlers
But months later, the Provincial Governor Totoh Tan, because perhaps of the strength of the social media advocates, decided to talk with the informal settlers.
They came out with agreements that appealed to all parties.
They agreed on two things among others: 1) The extension of stay and 2) The reparation for the damages.
The informal settlers' stay was extended until March, but I think the extension had become longer than initially negotiated with as we still see some houses in the area recently. The kind Governor Totoh Tan also gave P1,000,000 cash to the settlers' organization.
The kidnapped Treasurer, Mr Jesus Cabelin, by the way had been freed last year, too. Ransom was hush-hush, but it was formerly established at P100M.
Jolo Sulu is a peaceful and lovely place
Despite the frequent misunderstanding, all of us together must do something to help build up a robust economy, stable peace and order, and prosperous city of Jolo.
It is not the task of the government alone to do that. Everyone must lend their helping hand.
MindPro, Ayala Malls, Glorietta are not government projects. The government, however, must remove all the thorns for the private sectors to do their magic.
Start it with ensuring Peace and Order in Sulu. With that we thank the former Chief of Police in Jolo, Police Chief Leva-Ley Lami-ing for the kind words after the Anti-Kidnapping rally in March 2014.
"This is a stepping stone para mabigyan natin ng wakas at solution ang problema sa ating bayan, itong series of kidnapping incidence and other high-profile crimes in our society."
Be blessed po!
Let us all love Sulu!