Mitigating Maritime Violence In Sulu Sea: Regional Cooperation Needed – Analysis

Suggestions that kidnappers/extortionists make money from ransom do not explain the root causes of maritime violence in the Sulu Sea. The main solution lies in development of the impoverished region in Mindanao and granting the Muslims self-rule in their homeland, coupled with regional cooperation to enforce law and order at sea.
By BA Hamzah*
The recent spate of kidnappings in the Sulu Sea seems to suggest that the sea is now under the control of the notorious bandits-cum-criminals and extortionists with their main sanctuaries/hideouts in southern Philippines. Their modus operandi is very simple. They extort money from families of captives or from their respective governments. It does not matter who pays the ransom so long as the right amount is paid. Very often, if the right amount of ransom is not raised in good time they would decapitate the captives as has happened to John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, both Canadians, in April and June 2016, respectively.
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