“Money, not romance, lures some people to protect the Abu Sayyaf bandit group,” Leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Emmanuel Fontanilla revealed as he urged the government to look into the possibility that some ranking military, police and government officials have been protecting the bandit group in exchange for a share in the ransom money paid by relatives of kidnap victims.
According to Atty. Fontanilla, MNLF legal counsel and spokesperson, the arrest of police Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza and her alleged bomb expert Abu Sayyaf lover Reneer Lou Dongon is a solid confirmation of the rumors in Sulu and Basilan regarding the collusion between the terrorist group and some people in government.
“Kidnapping has become a cottage industry in Mindanao and everyone who kidnaps, shelters and negotiates for ransom gets their share,” Fontanilla said and believing this is the reason kidnapping activities continue despite the intensified military and police operations against the Abu Sayyaf.
“Money, not romance lures people to protect the Abu Sayyaf bandit group,” he added.
Fontanilla expressed belief that the bandits have accumulated a huge sum of money that they decided to expand their network in the Visayas, just like what happened recently in Bohol.
According to The Philippine Star, Fontanilla was referring to an attempt by the Abu Sayyaf to set up base in Bohol where some of the bandits were neutralized by government security forces in separate encounters in Inabanga and Clarin towns.
Based on the reports, Nobleza and Dongon were believed to be on their way to rescue the remaining bandits trapped in Bohol when they were arrested on Saturday night.
“The Bohol incident is just the tip of a well-organized group. Unless these influential people protecting the Abu Sayyaf are unmasked, kidnapping activities will continue not only in Mindanao but in other parts of the country,” Fontanilla said.
The Philippine National Police said on the other hand that the involvement of Supt. Nobleza in the terrorist group is an isolated case.