Three individuals who could not present identification documents were taken into custody by the military Thursday morning during an operation targeting supporters of the Abu Sayyaf Group, a report reaching Camp Aguinaldo said on Friday.
The report said the operation was launched by the Amphibious Ready Group of the Joint Task Group Tawi-Tawi led by navy Captain Fernando Gomez in Panguan Island in Sitangkay town.
The operation “resulted in the seizure of three jungkong-type water crafts, custody of three persons with no pertinent identification documents and the confiscation of one shotgun with 10 live ammunition rounds,” the report said.
“Authorities are currently determining if the seized boats and persons are connected with the recent spate of cross-border kidnapping incidents,” it added.
Accordingly, the amphibious group has used the BRP Tarlac, the first ever command and control ship of the Navy.
Build by PT Pal (Persero) of Indonesia, the ship has an embarked helicopter which has a marine special operations component and a Navy SEAL detachment on board.
In the past few weeks, the ASG has been staging kidnappings of Malaysian and Indonesian crews of transiting vessels in the area. The bandits usually behead their victims once ransom is not delivered to them in exchange for the safe release of their captives.
This worsening security situation in the south, which include Basilan and Sulu, the lairs of the ASG, has prompted Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to craft a joint border patrol operation which is already in the works to prevent the criminal activity of the bandits.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has also intensified its operations to eliminate the ASG problem in southern Mindanao even as President Rodrigo Duterte has given the ASG the option to either talk or fight with the government.