Abu Sayyaf can use Duterte statement to claim ‘legitimacy’--analyst


Posted at Nov 26 2016 04:32 PM | Updated as of Nov 27 2016 12:25 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of possible talks with militant group Abu Sayyaf may be used by rebels to claim legitimacy as a group, a political analyst said Saturday.

“The Abu Sayyaf can claim that legitimacy but the reality on the ground is stronger, meaning, these are people who have kidnapped and created a peace and order problem,” Casiple said.

Earlier this year, the President said he had lost his respect for the rebel group since they began beheading people in front of the camera.

But in a change of tide last Friday, Duterte said he can begin talks with the Abu Sayyaf since using force will not solve the peace problem in Mindanao.

Casiple said the President, in stating his openness to talks, means that he is really trying to have a peaceful ending to all the problems in that part of the country.

Unlike the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Casiple said the Abu Sayyaf has not made any political demands as a group and has only demanded ransom for its kidnappings.

"The present Abu Sayyaf is nowhere near that level of political demands. The best that you could say now is the Abu Sayyaf is trying to claim to be part of the caliphate that the ISIS group in the Middle East or in Syria is trying to establish, but that’s neither here nor there...

"There's never been a public statement or a program or a document that they have come out with except some photographs and there's nothing during the kidnappings that they have political demands."

Aside from getting the cooperation of the MNLF in solving the peace problem, Casiple said local tribes in the area can also be used to handle the peace problem since they have natural relations with the rebels but are neither affiliated with any group.

"This is basically a tribal area, Tausugs and many of these clans that are there are involved in neither Abu Sayyaf nor have relations with the MNLF so there are natural relations you can use to handle the problem," he said.

Abu Sayyaf which means "bearer of the sword," is holding at least 22 captives, most of them foreigners, and are demanding huge ransoms for the captives' release.