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Terror group Abu Sayyaf has demanded for RM20 million or roughly P230 million in exchange of the safety of seven Indonesian sailors abducted last week, the Philippine military reports.
Major Filemon Tan Jr., chief of the Public Affairs Office of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) told ANC's Dateline Philippines on Monday the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has gotten in touch with the families of the kidnap victims.
"It was said that the abductors contacted the family, but as to the Armed Forces, we do not talk to these people, that’s why they do not give us the demand," he said.
"It was said to be a ransom of 20-million ringgits for the seven people," he said.
Tan confirmed that the ASG abducted seven Indonesians who are on their way to Cagayan de Oro to deliver coal, but the military have yet to identify which sub-group it was.
"We are studying it further, we need more reports to identify what group it is, and we are prepared to conduct operations against that group," he said.
The military is also not able to pinpoint the exact location of the abduction "because of the open seas and one report said that the navigational equipment was taken from the ship."
But Tan maintained, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), specifically the Wesmincom, "is doing its best, is doing its mandate, its commitment to the people."
"The Philippine government knows the urgency of the situation and what the navy needs, that’s why I believe, they are also looking for ways to expedite this kind of request," he said.
With vast sea channels, Tan said "it’s not that we are not capable really; we have a limitation to our capabilities."
He reported that as of late, there are eight to ten casualties from the side of the terrorists, with 15 others wounded. Meanwhile, the military lost one soldier, while 15 others are wounded.
Tan would also accept President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's decision to talk with the terror group if the chief executive initiates it, as he believes the "leadership has the wisdom on how to deal with these bandits groups."
"If the leadership deems it necessary to talk to this group so that lives will be saved, so that [there will be] a better chance for peace, then the soldiers will support the government for that," he said.
"We trust the leadership that before they make action, or they take action, they also consult the soldiers, the leadership, and they also think very deeply of the repercussions and consequences of the acts also," he said.

Source: ABS-CBN News
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