“Adventures” of the Abu Sayaff

Healthbeat 2000 No. 10.jpgHealthbeat 2000 No. 10.jpg

On Easter Sunday of the new millennium, a group of bandits calling themselves Abu Sayaff took 21 tourists off the island of Sipadan in Malaysia. These bandits demanded ransom for the release of the hostages. In the government’s effort to free the hostages sans ransom, fighting ensued. Thousands of residents were forced to seek shelter elsewhere. Some fled to relatives, others went to evacuation center, while others hopped to another island for safety.

As fighting continued, resources were depleted. A significant amount of drugs, medicines, supplies and health manpower were channeled to regional health offices in Cotabato and Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to augment the needs. All regional health offices contributed some of their resources to ensure that everyone’s health is a top priority aside from the release of hostages.

In September, the last batch of hostages was freed. According to speculations, the bandits were able to amass millions of dollars from their “adventure”.