Dr. Daniel Moreno. (PNA file photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) is checking the veracity that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has demanded PHP5 million ransom in exchange for the release of the physician they seized in Jolo, Sulu.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, reiterated Wednesday the government’s “no ransom policy” in addressing the abduction of Dr. Daniel Moreno by the ASG bandits.

ASG bandits took Moreno on February 4 from his clinic cum residence in Barangay Walled City, Jolo.

“Lately, there is a PHP5 million ransom demand in exchange for his freedom according to the news that was circulating, but we will strictly stick to the no ransom policy. We don’t want any payment made since they will use the money to kidnap more victims,” Sobejana said in Filipino.

However, he said there is no proof of life yet although Moreno’s relatives have reportedly already received a ransom demand.

He said Moreno was taken by the group of ASG sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan based on the intelligence report they gathered.

Sawadjaan has been appointed as Emir of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Philippines and is believed to be coddling foreign terrorists in Sulu, the Army official said.

Sobejana said based on their assessment, the bandits took Moreno primarily to treat Sawadjaan, who is suffering from tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, Sobejana said the operations to rescue Moreno, including the five Indonesian fishermen, will continue in the province of Sulu.

The ASG bandits kidnapped the five Indonesian fishermen last January 18 near the coast of Malaysia. (PNA)