ZAMBOANGA - The three foreign nationals and a Filipina who were taken by armed men from Oceanview Resort on Samal Island last month have not been turned over to the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu, according to a top official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
MNLF Islamic Command Council chairman Habib Mudjahab Hashim said the abductors were not members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Hashim said the abductors may just be members of a lawless group operating in Davao region who have contacts with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.
He said the abductors brought the captives to Sulu supposedly to seek the help of the Abu Sayyaf Group in securing the victims amid the intensified search and rescue operation launched by government forces immediately after the abduction.
Those abducted were the Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkinstad; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Hall's Filipina girlfriend, Tess.
He said the abductors are finding it hard to turn the victims over to the Abu Sayyaf Group because of the ongoing military operations in Sulu targeting the hide-outs of the bandits.
He added it will be difficult for the MNLF to secure the safe release of the four captives if they end up with the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Hashim said the MNLF in Sulu does not have direct control over the movements of the bandits, citing their differences in ideology.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has been in constant communication with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari over the last few days to discuss details of the rescue effort launched by the MNLF.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the military cannot yet confirm whether the captives are now in Sulu.