The Philippine military flew a captured leader of the Islamic Abu Sayyaf militants to Manila on Monday, giving President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a badly needed boost in a pre-election drive to appear tough on crime.
Ghalib Andang, widely known as Commander Robot, burst into prominence in 2000, when he abducted 21 tourists and workers from the Sipadan dive resort in Malaysia. They held the hostages, who included French, German, Finnish and South African nationals, for months on the island of Jolo, before freeing them for millions of dollars in ransom.
He was wounded in a firefight with soldiers and captured in Jolo on Sunday. A triumphant military brought him to their base in the Capital. ‘‘Relentless pressure is taking its toll and we will keep it up until all the terrorists are accounted for and they no longer pose a threat,’’ Arroyo said.
Andang’s capture came only two days after Arroyo lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, opening the way for the first executions in three years, in response to a spate of kidnappings in Manila targeting the ethnic Chinese community. Officials said the government is likely to seek execution for Andang.(Reuters)