MANILA, Philippines - An alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group – wanted for kidnapping nurses and workers in Basilan in 2001 – was arrested in Payatas, Quezon City last July 25, officials said yesterday.
Sali Basal Taib, alias Gong-Gong Sali and Abu Husni, has a pending arrest warrant for kidnapping and serious illegal detention issued by Judge Leo Principe of the Isabela Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 1 involving workers of the Golden Harvest Plantation in Lantawan town in 2001, according to Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region chief Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo.
Isabela RTC Branch 2 Danilo Bucoy also issued a warrant for Taib’s arrest for kidnapping nurses at the Dr. Torres Hospital in Lamitan, also in 2001.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has offered a P5.30-million reward for Taib’s capture.
However, Taib denied that he is the same man wanted by the law.
Taib is the second alleged Abu Sayyaf member arrested this year. On Jan. 11, alleged Abu Sayyaf member Suhod Salasim was nabbed in Quezon City.
According to Fajardo, he and officials from the Philippine Army and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency have been working since April to arrest Taib.
“We have information that he went to Manila apparently to lie low for a while, to escape the heat of the military offensive against Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Mindanao,” he said.
Fajardo said two persons now under the government’s witness protection program identified Taib as the same man involved in the two cases.
“We have him identified by two witnesses prior to launching a manhunt against him. We are positive that we got the right person,” he said.
Taib was arrested last July 25 but Fajardo decided to keep his arrest under wraps as they launched a follow-up operation to arrest his companions. The operation was unsuccessful.
During tactical interrogation, Taid claimed he went to Saudi Arabia in 2006 to work as an electrician and lineman. He returned to the Philippines last month for a vacation and to observe Ramadan, but was planning to leave the country had he not been arrested.
Taib is being held in the Headquarters Support Service at Camp Crame pending his transfer to the Zamboanga City police.