By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Government of Indonesia through its Consul General has commended the officers and personnel of Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi (JTFT) for their successful rescue of four Indonesian nationals kidnapped earlier by suspected guerillas of the outlawed Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
In a statement sent to the Philippine Muslim Today news on Sunday, the Western Mindanao Command (WMC) said the Indonesian Consulate described the JTFT’s feat as a milestone in the strengthening of the bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and the Philippines.
Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian personally awarded a commendation certificate to JTFT Commander Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas in symbolic rites on June 26 at the 2nd Marine Brigade headquarters in Sanga-Sanga, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, the WMC statement said.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you all. Let us continue to intensify our good relations for the common good,” Consul General Fabrian was quoted as telling the JTFT officers and men.
Earlier reports said four Indonesian nationals (unnamed in the WMC statement) were abducted last March 18 and 21 in undisclosed areas of Tawi-Tawi by armed men purportedly led by ASG sub-leader “Apo Mike.”
Pursuing combined Marine and police contingents of the JTFT engaged later the abductors, shot dead “Apo Mike,” and recovered the four Indonesia captives, the WMC said.
At the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Rojas thanked the Consul General for the commendation, assuring the latter that “we will continue our efforts to enhance our mutual cooperation and interoperability for the benefit of both the Indonesians and the Filipinos, and our neighboring countries.”
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., WMC commander, has expressed similar appreciation of the Indonesian Consulate’s gesture.
“I hope that our successes will foster better understanding among us while we continue to address security concerns on our shared maritime waters,” Gen. Vinluan was quoted as saying.
During his visit to Tawi-Tawi, Consul General Fabrian was accompanied by Puguh Tedjobaskoro, Protocol and Consular Affairs Officer; Galih Priya Kartika Perdhana, Immigration Officer; Commander Bambang Widodo, Chief Indonesian Liaison Officer; and other staff, it was learned. (AGM)