By: Victor Reyes
Malaya, July 19, 2010, Monday
THE military yesterday said it has achieved a breakthrough
in resolving the kidnapping of Japanese national Katayama
Mamaito in a remote village in Pangutaran town in Sulu last
In a phone interview, Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo
said they have already identified the leader of the group
that snatched Mamaito (other reports identified him as Toshio
Ito) Friday afternoon at Sitio Bas in Barangay Bangkilay.
"We already have a name but we cannot reveal the name of the
suspected leader of that group because we are conducting
followup and pursuit operations. We don’t want to alarm them,
or alert them," said Arevalo.
Arevalo said they are now coordinating with the Japanese
embassy to determine if Ito and Mamaito are two different
persons who are currently in the Philippines.
"We are clarifying (Mamaito’s) identity because he is using
two different names and we are looking for him, together with
the Philippine National Police. We are pressing on that effort,
" Arevalo said.
Arevalo said they have yet to ascertain if their suspect has
any group affiliation. A number of armed groups are known to
operate in Sulu, including the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group which
has been involved in a number of high-profile kidnapping, and
rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
"There was no mention of group affiliation but they are following
a lead," Arevalo said.