Mollycoddling a terrorist | Inquirer Opinion

Mollycoddling a terrorist

/ 05:07 AM August 20, 2020

The Duterte administration relentlessly pursued the passage of the problematic Anti-Terrorism Act, despite grave concerns from human rights activists and law groups. Per Malacañang’s spin, it clearly demonstrated the government’s “serious commitment to stamp out terrorism, which has long plagued the country and has caused unimaginable grief and horror” to Filipinos.

And yet, when faced with an actual terrorist — Abduljihad “Indang” Susukan, sub-commander of the small but violent Abu Sayyaf and a man facing multiple charges for kidnapping, illegal detention, murder, and attempted murder — what did the Duterte administration do? Lay out the red carpet and act all cuddly.

Susukan, wanted in both the Philippines and Malaysia for cross-border kidnappings in the east coast of Sabah and other criminal activities in Jolo, Sulu, was arrested on Aug. 13 in the home of Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari, to whom Susukan supposedly surrendered as early as April this year. He was flown to Manila and taken into the custody of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame. The Armed Forces of the Philippines had sought his transfer to Camp Aguinaldo for security considerations, as he was deemed “a high-value individual.”

If Susukan had been in Misuari’s home all this time, then Misuari clearly sheltered and aided an enemy of the state. The Palace, however, immediately absolved Misuari of any criminal liability; presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it was “highly unlikely” that criminal charges would be filed against Misuari, on the excuse that he “really arranged” for Susukan’s supposed surrender.


Misuari himself has an arrest warrant for rebellion charges over the 2013 Zamboanga siege. The warrant was suspended in October 2016, and President Duterte appointed Misuari the country’s special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

As first reported in the Malaysian newspaper The Star on Aug. 13, citing regional intelligence sources, Susukan had been “allowed to move freely” in Davao City, Mr. Duterte’s hometown where his daughter is mayor, and was seen in the company of Misuari.

Susukan and Misuari were said to have flown to Davao from Jolo aboard a privately owned Bombardier Challenger 350 — the same plane used by Mr. Duterte around the country and in travels to neighboring countries in Asean. Misuari brought Susukan to Davao City on Aug. 9 supposedly for a medical procedure to replace with a prosthetic limb the left arm that Susukan had lost during a gun battle with the military in Misuari’s stronghold of Jolo early last year.

Was the military even aware that one of the country’s most notorious terrorists was being chaperoned by Misuari in the President’s hometown? Astoundingly, it said it didn’t know.


It was only after the military brass were asked about the Malaysian report that the police and military actively sought to take hold of Susukan. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he had talked with the Eastern Mindanao Command chief, who said he was “unaware why Misuari and Susukan are together in Davao.” He acknowledged that Susukan was indeed wanted by the military as the Abu Sayyaf had “killed and beheaded a lot of our soldiers.”

“Nobody knew that Susukan arrived in Davao… until his picture appeared in the media the other day,” Lorenzana admitted in a GMA News interview. AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo also said that Misuari did not inform the military that Susukan was in his custody.


Take note that this year, the administration was allotted P9.6 billion in confidential and intelligence funds, of which P4.5 billion is lodged under the Office of the President. That amount is almost double the P2.5 billion sought in 2018 and 2019.

Also causing ripples of worry is the buzz that Susukan, despite the gravity of his crimes, would be granted amnesty, a possibility that Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon said would run contrary to the Duterte administration’s claimed unforgiving stance on terrorism.

“News reports I’m reading about Susukan don’t give clarity on whether it was a deliberate act to surrender or it was a capture. If he surrenders on condition that he’ll become Misuari’s aide and granted amnesty, what does that do to the government’s supposed tough anti-terror stance?” Biazon tweeted.

His view was shared by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who shepherded the Anti-Terrorism Act to approval. “We had sent the right message to the world that we mean business against terrorism… But we could be sending the wrong message if we allow politics into the mix, as in the case of Susukan,” warned Lacson.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

That is grossly understating it. The special treatment lavished on Susukan via Misuari is not just “politics,” but the brazen mollycoddling of a terrorist that should horrify the public, and for which security officials in this administration should hang their heads in shame.

TAGS: Abu Sayyaf Group, Anti-Terrorism Law, Editorial, Nur Misuari

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.