No ransom was paid for the liberation of 10 Indonesian hostages held by the Philippines separatists since March, 2016, an Indonesian negotiator said.
“The liberation has been made without money. It was the results of negotiations and cooperation between Indonesia and the Philippines in military intelligence,” retired army Maj.Gen. Kivlan Zein said in a short message from the Philippines on Monday.
The hostages, who were crewmen of a coal tugboat the Brahma, were seized by the separatist group of Al Habsyi Mesaya under Abu Sayyaf in the sea off Sabah and the Sulu islands on March 24.
Kivlan said he represented PT Patria Maritime Lines, which owns the tugboat, in the process of negotiations he started on March 27, 2016 with support from the Philippine authorities.
Support came mainly from Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II, who is a nephew of the leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari.
Abu Sayyaf was former driver of Nur Misuari, who was governor of the autonomous Muslim province of Mindanao or ARMM in 196-2001.
“As representative of the company (PT Patria Maritime Lines) I asked for support from the Sulu governor to persuade the abductor and I succeeded in persuading him,” Kivlan said.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian military (TNI) Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) and its Philippine counterpart with support of the Sulu governor and leaders of lower district administrations in Sulu also sought to persuade the abductors.
Finally with persuasion and pressures by military attacks and bombing, the abductors agreed to arrange the liberation of the hostages by handing them over to the Sulu governor, Kivlan said.
He said currently he was in the process of the liberation of four other Indonesian crewmen of the TB Henry which was abducted later by other group of the separatists in the Philippines.
“We have known their positions . I have made contacts with the abductors of the four Indonesians. Hopefully we could also set them free,” said Kivlan, who was former chief of staff of the Army Strategic Command (Kostrad).
The government has from the beginning pledged not to bow to the demand of the abductors to pay some ransom.
President Joko Widodo announced the liberation of the hostages on Sunday saying thanks to all involved in the process of setting free the hostages.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and TNI chief Gen. Gatoto Nurmantyo attributed the success in negotiations to “total diplomacy with process controlled under single orchestra.”
Retno said the Philippine government has been very cooperative in the steps taken by Indonesia.
Hurmantyo said TNI was involved in the intelligence operations,which is part of the total diplomacy, that includes political and cultural approaches and other approaches.
Source: Antara News