Archive for the ‘The Ces Drilon Kidnapping’ Category

DoJ approves kidnap raps vs Isnaji, son

July 22, 2008

By Leila Salaverria, Ed General, Julie Alipala
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:52:00 07/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DoJ) Monday approved the filing of kidnapping charges against Indanan, Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider over the hostage-taking of an ABS-CBN crew led by broadcaster Ces Drilon.

The DoJ upheld the findings of its panel of prosecutors which said that some of the actuations made by the Isnajis during the hostage drama seemed to favor the kidnappers rather than the hostages.

The prosecutors, in their resolution, also said the presence of Haider at the counting of P20 million in ransom money during the payoff was like a scene from the movies.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the DoJ was rushing to file the charges with the Sulu Regional Trial Court to preempt defense moves to secure the release of the Isnajis—now held in Camp Crame—through a writ of habeas corpus.

The habeas corpus petition is expected to be heard in the next 48 hours, Gonzalez said.

“They (Isnajis) might be released, but it will not exonerate them. If released, possibly they will become scarce. You couldn’t get them anymore,” Gonzalez told reporters.

The Isnajis have denied involvement in the kidnapping, maintaining they merely acted as negotiators to secure the release of Drilon, her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderrama, and Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo.

The prosecution panel, led by City Prosecutor Emilie Fe Delos Santos, said the Isnajis could not be cleared of the accusations against them despite Dinampo’s statement that he did not think father and son were involved.

“Professor Dinampo’s opinion and point of view … are unsupported by competent proof,” the panel said.

Against human nature

The panel said the contention of the Isnajis that they were simply negotiators was “too impossible to believe and ran counter with human nature and the course of things.”

Citing Haider’s statement that the kidnappers had counted the ransom money—delivered in batches of P5 million and P15 million—in his presence, the panel said this was “incredulous, one we can only perhaps see in the movies.”

The panel said it was “too obvious that respondents each took an active role as alleged ‘negotiators,’ with respondent Haider ‘Jun’ Isnaji appearing to have first hand knowledge of the activities of the kidnappers.”

“As a matter of common observation and knowledge, we find it unusual that respondent Haider appears to know even the minutest detail of what the kidnappers wanted. Although continually professing his innocence, the behavior he exhibited seem to favor the kidnappers than the hostages,” it said.

Most disturbing

With regard to the elder Isnaji, the panel said his actuations also appeared to favor the kidnappers.

It also said the mayor knew about the delivery of the ransom money on two occasions, while other concerned agencies did not. It said the mayor “conveniently” declared he was informed about it by “sources” that he could not name.

The panel said the elder Isnaji’s “most disturbing” act was his questioning the attempt of police Provincial Director Julasirim Kasim to intercept the P15-million ransom batch brought by lawyer Nasser Ynawat.

“If indeed, it was Mayor Isnaji’s sincere desire to stick to the ‘no ransom policy’ of the government, his act of demanding for the immediate release of the P15M from … Kasim gave us the impression that he was more interested in the money than anything,” the panel said.

Advancing careers

The Isnajis said they were shocked that the police had implicated them in the crime. They also pointed to what they said was the lack of an incriminating statement from Drilon against them.

The elder Isnaji also said he was initially reluctant to become a negotiator but agreed to it after talking with a crying Drilon over the phone.

Haider, for his part, said he was surprised to find out from the kidnappers that he had been designated to deliver to them the ransom money brought in by a courier.

He said he was reluctant to do it but agreed after it was pointed out that helping ensure the release of the hostages would advance his and his father’s bid for government seats in the forthcoming Muslim regional elections.

At Camp Aguinaldo, the military expressed confidence that the arrest of two teenaged boys linked to the June 8 hostage-taking would lead to the other kidnappers and the mastermind.

Abu group got P18M

Nadzmir Amirul, alias Abu Kudama, 18, and his 14-year-old companion were arrested at a military checkpoint on July 18 in Patikul town, according to the military.

Interviewed in Jolo, Amirul said that the Abu Sayyaf group of “Commander Amlon” got about P18 million in ransom.

He said the money was put in two bags and divided among the members of the group.

Asked about the alleged participation of Mayor Isnaji, Amirul said: “This is my first time to hear that name. I do not know him.”

Amirul said he was only an errand boy.

He said that when the kidnappers arrived in their place at Barangay Timpook in Patikul, he and another companion were hired to watch over the victims.

P50,000 for errand boy

Besides serving as guard, Amirul cooked and fetched water for the kidnappers and the victims, according to the military.

Amirul said he got P50,000 as payment for his services.

Asked why the wallet of cameraman Encarnacion was recovered from him during his arrest, Amirul said it was given to him.

Amirul said that during the hostage drama, Encarnacion asked him to look for his wallet, which had been taken by others, so he could retrieve his identification cards.

He said Encarnacion allowed him to keep the wallet after the cameraman got his ID.

Amirul said he and some of his companions were considered part of the “outer” group of the Abu Sayyaf, and not that of the “inner” group led by Radulan Sahiron.

Col. Eugene Clemen, commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade, described Amirul as “very cooperative and is telling the truth.”

“I am convinced by what he says. Honestly, I myself believe that what he is saying is true,” Clemen said.

Two Abu Kudamas?

But Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag Jr., commander of the Naval Forces South, said the Abu Kudama he knew had long been arrested.

“Abu Kudama is in Manila to face charges in court. Apart from this, I have nothing more. Military Intelligence Group 9 arrested him last year,” Marayag said.

“As far as I know, there is (only) one Abu Kudama, unless there’s another one,” Marayag said.

Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Marine commandant, said he was positive about Kudama’s identity because he was one of those caught in a video secretly taken by the ABS-CBN team.

“His arrest will provide a lot of information that would lead to the solution of the case and give justice to the victims,” Dolorfino said. With a report from Nikko Dizon

ABS-CBN airs kidnap video shot secretly

July 15, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—A Philippine TV network has broadcast videos shot secretly by one of its crews while they were being held by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits, offering a glimpse into their jungle ordeal including threats to behead one of them.

ABS-CBN aired the videos late Sunday in a documentary titled “Kidnap,” partly to help police on Jolo island identify the kidnappers of news anchor Ces Drilon and two cameramen, who were released last month after ransom amounting to millions of pesos was paid.

Recounting her 9-day captivity, Drilon said in the documentary she was ready to kill any of her abductors who might have tried to rape her.

“I was thinking I would really have to kill if somebody attempted,” said Drilon.

“Before I slept, I looked around to check where the long knife was because I thought it would be easier to use than a gun,” she said, wiping away tears.

Cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion said the kidnappers bound his hands and made him kneel, preparing to behead him as a deadline loomed for the ransom payment. He said he was praying and weeping when the phone rang and the gunmen were told the ransom was on the way.

The three journalists were kidnapped on June 8 while hiking with a local guide in Jolo’s hinterlands in a failed attempt to interview Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron.

Kidnappers unaware

Encarnacion said he secretly turned on his camera a few times to film their kidnappers, led by a young commander named “Teks,” who frequently fiddled with his cell phone to send messages.

The mostly young-looking kidnappers, some in ill-fitting camouflage uniforms, appeared unaware they were being filmed. Some stood idly in the woods, their guns on the ground, while others rested in hammocks.

When one gunman asked what was on his tape, Encarnacion immediately rewound it to an unused part but the camera’s whirring sound made the rebel curious.

“I told him the camera was just heating up because it has not been used for some time. When I played it, it was blank. They didn’t know I had been shooting,” he said.

The ABS-CBN senior vice president for news, Maria Ressa, said the network decided to air the videos to help authorities pursue the abductors.

“We don’t want them to do this with impunity again,” she said.

No story worth your life

None of the kidnappers has been captured but police have arrested Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider, who had been chosen by the kidnappers to relay their ransom demand. Police have accused the Isnajis of masterminding the kidnapping, but they have denied the allegation.

The documentary included recordings of cell phone calls made by Drilon in captivity to ABS-CBN officials, her family and a hostage negotiator. In one call, she asked that her husband be told to update payments on her life insurance.

Drilon, who disobeyed an order from superiors to avoid the dangerous assignment, has been suspended from work for three months, Ressa said.

Drilon said she had learned her lesson well. “No story is worth losing your life for,” she said.

Dinampo not convinced

At the resumption Monday of the preliminary investigation of the case, Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo—who was himself taken hostage—maintained he had yet to see any evidence to prove the Isnajis were involved in the kidnapping.

Dinampo has executed an affidavit virtually clearing the Isnajis of involvement.

“I executed that affidavit in the interest of truth and justice. It is my truthful belief that there can be no justice if we point fingers at the wrong guys,” Dinampo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

He said that during their captivity, “I did not hear anything that incriminated them (the Isnajis).”

He also said Drilon “might have been pressured by police” into joining the case filed by police. He did not elaborate.

Drilon convinced

During the interview with the Inquirer, Drilon asked Dinampo in a loud voice: “Prof, did you tell the media that I was not telling the truth?” A meek Dinampo shook his head.

Drilon told reporters she felt bad Dinampo executed his affidavit.

“I told him that we cannot contradict each other,” Drilon said.

She added that when police showed her their evidence, combined with what they saw and heard while in captivity, she became convinced the Isnajis were involved.

“My appeal to the professor is, why clear them (Isnajis)? How do you know they were not involved?” Drilon said.

Reacting to the ABS-CBN documentary, State Prosecutor Emilie delos Santos said the prosecution panel would remain impartial.

“We are conducting these proceedings with fairness and we expect that from both parties. I urge them not to take advantage of media and to be fair,” Delos Santos said. Reports from Associated Press and Alcuin Papa

================================

My Take:

Tsk! Ces and company are unwittingly being used as pawn now.  Lalo pa’t they treat the story as a mere story, they easily believed on what they see and heard.  San na ang pagiging journalist ni Ces?  Di man lang siya nagduda na maaaring ito’y gawa-gawang kidnap lang. Tsk.

Editorial Cartoon: “Kidnap”

July 14, 2008

Their face, according to Ces and company

Silip sa likod ng “Kidnap” ng ABS-CBN

July 14, 2008

Silip sa likod ng “Kidnap” ng ABS-CBN

Inabangan ko ang “Kidnap” presentation ng ABS-CBN kagabi, at umasa ako na may masisilip tayong mga bagong impormasyon sa naturang dokumentaryo na maghahatid sa pagkakalutas ng “kaso” at “pagkakahuli” sa mga “kidnaper” ng grupo nina Ces Drilon, Angelo Valderama at Jimmy Encarnacion.

Matatandaang ang grupo nila ay “nakidnap” bago pa man bumisita si “Frank”. Ang pangyayari ay hinarap ng buong industriya ng midya ng buong ingat, dahil na rin sa concern sa buhay ng tatlo, at hindi pa dahil sa politikang naglalaro sa likod ng naturang pangyayari. After all, hindi ganun kalaya ang pamamahayag sa bansang ito, to the point na, ang mga media personality ay nagkakasya sa pagtingin sa mga “pangyayari” bilang simpleng “pangyayari”, disregarding the fact, na may mga dahilan kung bakit nangyari ang naturang “pangyayari”, at may mga nagpapakilos para mangyari ang mga naturang “pangyayari.”

Anyway.

Disappointed ako sa napanood ko.

Ang “Kidnap” ay isang tele-dramang tinubog sa dokumentaryong mala-Eye Witness Account. Bagamat kauna-unawa naman ito dahil ang naging pangunahing layunin ng “Kidnap” ay maipakita ang ordeal ng tatlo sa pinaka-delikadong oras ng kanilang personal na buhay (hindi buhay-media). Ang layuning ito ay umiikot sa batas ng “esklusibistang” praktika sa daigdig ng komersyal na midya sa Pilipinas. Ang “esklusibistang” praktikang ito ang siya ring nagtulak sa grupo nina Ces sa kapahamakan.

Nasabi kong tele-drama ito, dahil na rin sa pag-employ nila ng “re-enactment” (in fairness to the ABS-CBN Current Affairs Team, di naman ito masama, actually, ginagawa din ito ng ibang mga dokumentarista sa ibang bansa at maging dito sa lokal) nang walang sustenidong paglalagay ng mga paunawa na ito’y re-enactment lamang (ito lang ang masama, kasi masasabing isang porma ito ng pag-mislead sa mga viewers), dun sa mga video clips na kinuha sa performances ng mga actor na gumanap bilang sina Ces at ang mga “kidnaper” nila. Tapos sa bandang hulihan ng palabas, ay ipi-play nila ang ilang clips na may nakalagay na paunawang “Actual Video Footages”. Sa mga susunod na eksena ay makikitang nagpapaliwanag si Bb. Maria Ressa na ang mga shots na yaon ay malikhaing kuha ni Jimmy Encarnacion. Sa katapusan ay makikita ang mga pangalan ng gumanap na kidnaper (bagamat “kidnappers” lang ang nakasulat at walang “as” sa unahan nito.

Fine. Pagpupugay kay Jimmy. Now that’s one brave media worker. At dapat lang talaga siyang parangalan at papurihan. Siya lang sa tatlo ang talagang naging media personality sa gitna ng mga pangyayaring iyon. Ang dalawa (Ces at Angelo) ay naging purong bihag lamang.

Pero nabawasan ang legitimacy ng mga video clips dahil sa pagkakahalo nito sa mga “re-enacted scene” na walang paunawa na ito’y mga re-enacted scene lamang. Nakadagdag sa pagkabawas ng legitimacy ng video footages ang pagpapablur nito sa mukha ng isang taong nakunan ni Jimmy (umano) sa isang eksena (yung nakaupong nilalang). Now that’s not Jimmy’s fault. Alam nating lahat na wala siyang kapangyarihang mag-censor sa loob ng naturang network.

Mas tumingkad ang pagiging teledrama ng “Kidnap” nang kapansin-pansing “mawala” sa eksena si Propesor Dinampo. Apat silang bihag, pero bakit ang tatlo lang ang sinentruhan ng dokumentaryo? Now this point runs against a popular claim that our media is objective. And this point shatters the very title of the documentary: kidnap.

Ang napili nilang titulo ay ang popular na tawag sa ginawa sa kanila ng mga kidnaper. Pero wala silang naisingit na sariling pananaw o analisasyon man lamang sa kanilang mga captors (maliban sa claim ni Ressa sa isang bahagi ng palabas na matalino daw ang mga kumidnap sa kanila, which is being equated by others bilang isang porma ng pahayag na nagsasabing hindi ASG ang mga kumidnap sa grupo nina Ces). Mas angkop pa nga sigurong gamitin ang “hostage” pero, with that, kailangan pa rin nilang isama sa daloy ng kwento si PropesorDinampo.

Which brings me to the documentary’s objective.  Sabi nila, “this is a documentary about recklessness and violence, about spirits that will not be broken by the barrel of a gun, about brotherhood, about family, about choices, about fear, and about just what it means to have courage.”  Walang objective.  Pure drama.  Or maybe, baka nalilimitahan sila ng reyalidad na nasa korte na ang usapin kung kaya limitado na rin ang maihhayag pa nila sa publiko.

Yet Still, they should have a specific objective.

At dito maaaring pumasok ang usapin ng komersyalisasyon ng midya.  Bakit ka magsaslita kung mwala ka namang ibang sasabihin?  Bakit?

Dahil may Advertiser.  Dahil may labanan sa ratings.  Period.

(2:24pm).

Brutally Frank: Ces Drilon kidnapping: a stage play?*

June 28, 2008

By MARY ANN MANJA BAYANG

I was in Davao City at the height of the negotiations for the release of kidnapped broadcaster Ces Drilon. I was in front of the television with locals from Mindanao as a teary-eyed Drilon was released by her “abductors” hours after a local plane landed in Southern Mindanao.

Allegedly on board was an unidentified lawyer carrying two duffel bags full of P15 million in cold cash.

“So, this is all for show,” I told a local who appeared to be trite on the whole incident of the “kidnapping” but who pitied Ces and her family so much for being victims of what she claims to be a stage play.

The reaction among my companions was common – this is all a stage play where the heroes are the actual villains. There was a common sentiment of hopelessness as the “audience” watch a play that keeps repeating the story.

I inquired further on the issues of kidnappings in Mindanao from the locals who were all so willing to answer my queries and satisfy my curiosity. From my discussions with them, I learned a lot of things that can only be gained from people on the ground and which never reach the press for public information.

According to these locals, there are two different groups of Abu Sayaff, one based in Basilan and the other in Sulu. The one in Sulu is allegedly a “loose group” while the one in Basilan is reportedly controlled by a consortium of the government military, police and local officials.

It was explained to me that the “kidnap-for-ransom” activities of these groups are their way of remorse against a government that seems to have neglected them or that continues to violate their basic rights.

Unacceptable as it may be to the other people, their way of demonstrating their issues against the government is to them, the only way to get the government’s attention to them and to their historically government-neglected communities.

Why do they say that the military, police and local officials are in connivance with the kidnappers? It is public knowledge.

People from Basilan and Sulu, like in many other small communities in the country, are always almost related to each other and are knowledgeable of what each of them are doing in their lives. Each one knows everyone and even knows where to locate anyone. It is common knowledge that anyone who enters these territories should have the permission from the local officials, police and military.

These are communities who are supposed to have, at the entrance to the village, a sign that reads “Enter at your own risk!” Indeed, risk will be certain when entry is done without the permission of “un”concerned people.

The locals said they strongly suspect that Ces did not seek this required permission therefore the directors of the stage play wanted to teach her a lesson and to make her know who calls the shots in the territory.

They say that the person who acted as a “guide” for Ces and her group was indeed publicly known as a military agent. This is one manifestation that the military is an inseparable element in the stage play.

The locals also posed a question on the credibility and interest of the local officials who were acting as “negotiators” in the play. They posed questions such as: why do the local officials have to be the ones to receive the ransom money? Why can they negotiate for a release after payment of ransom when they cannot negotiate for a mere safe release when they are supposed to have the authority over their territories?

In the case of the Gracia Burnham abduction, the victims were loaded in a chopper blindfolded and brought to Zamboanga. Only the military and the wealthy public officials have the capacity to own a chopper. Besides, aviation procedures make air travel really easy to track and regulate.

How about the ransom? These are people who come from extremely impoverished communities. The actual abductors are pushed to the wall by their economic needs and their desperate claims for genuine change and economic development.

The military, police and local officials allegedly make this as their milking cow to serve their own personal interests. This is where the money used to buy votes for the political elections allegedly comes from. So one may expect higher incidents of kidnapping, robbery and theft around the time when an election is approaching, locals observe.

How can the ordinary people’s call for genuine change and development harmonize with the interests of the politicians, police and military?

It is an “all-in-one” stage play. The “kidnapping” alerts the immediate attention of Malacañang and the public. It is a clamor for the palace to look into the issues and for the public to give the necessary pressure for its lady occupant to “do something.”

People in these areas are so desperate for social change and are so frustrated with Malacañang for not addressing their issues. They are sad that the media do not portray their real situations. This makes media persons the preferred victims in kidnapping.

The innocent victims in the play are usually exposed to the desperate lives of the “kidnappers”. They are made to personally know the issues and see the actual situations of these people and are expected to be ambassadors of true information in the hope that in the end, genuine social change will happen in their communities.

The ransom share is a mere incidental bonus to their primary call and a means of supporting what they believe is the “proper way” to call the attention of the government. For the other actors behind the scene, these incidents are sources of easy money to fuel selfish interests and perpetuate themselves in power.

I have no right to immediately judge the “kidnappers” as to whether their way of putting forward their issues to the proper authorities is proper or not. I may have no personal knowledge of the involvement of the local officials, the military and the police in all these “kidnappings” which the locals see as “stage plays” where, among the actors, the victim is the only person not given the script.

One thing for certain, there are genuine issues in these areas that need immediate and sincere attention. The “kidnappings” will never be solved by even a thousand military operations. It can only be resolved through a genuine social program that will address the real issues of a people who have been historically neglected abd have been suffering from institutionalized oppression and exploitation. #

(Footnotes)

* The contents of this article are information I gathered from discussions with locals in Mindanao and are not asserted in any way as portraying the truth of the situation.(NorDis)

Kidnapped prof wonders why their guide was not charged

June 27, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Juamil “Maming” Biyaw, the man accused of delivering broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, her crew and peace advocate professor Octavio Dinampo to their Abu Sayyaf captors, has so far not been charged with kidnapping.

In a phone interview Sunday, Dinampo said he was wondering why Biyaw was not included in the charges the police filed against 17 suspects in the kidnapping, led by Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider.

“He (Biyaw) was the one who made the arrangements, including the time and place, and left us in the hands of our captors,” Dinampo said.

He said Biyaw was closely associated with the military as an “asset.”

“The crime committed here is kidnapping and one missing link, I guess, is at large, and some people would like to take him and I am hoping Biyaw will speak the truth to clear all these issues,” Dinampo said.

He said he learned that Biyaw had been turned over to the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Western Mindanao for interrogation.

“I am aware there are some people who are working for his release. I hope he is still with the CIDG,” Dinampo, a Western Mindanao University professor, said.

Dinampo, however, refused to reveal the identities of the “influential people” who were allegedly working for Biyaw’s release.

Biyaw is a kagawad at Barangay Sandah village in Patikul, Sulu. He is known to the community as a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front, and as a military asset instrumental to the surrender of former MNLF combatants to the 3rd Marine Brigade.

But no one could point to Biyaw’s link to Isnaji, who had negotiated for the release of the captives but is now being accused of having a part in the kidnapping.

What was clear to him, Dinampo said, was that Biyaw, Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and Isnaji were all former MNLF members.

“Biyaw is related to Radulan, and most of his relatives are now with the latter, but Biyaw and Isnaji are not related,” he said.

Dinampo earlier said Sahiron’s men were behind their abduction.

Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, police chief in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said they had not “established the link between Biyaw and Isnaji in the kidnapping and their relationship.”

“I haven’t read the CIDG report on Biyaw. As far as I know, this guy is still with the CIDG Western Mindanao,” Goltiao added.

Chief Supt. Jose Pante, head of the CIDG in Western Mindanao, confirmed that Biyaw was still in their “protective custody.”

“But he is not saying anything. Ayaw niyang magsalita (He doesn’t want to talk),” Pante said.

Goltiao said Biyaw remained a suspect. “The fact he is still being held for further interrogation means he is one of the suspects.”

Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim, Sulu police chief, also said Biyaw was still a suspect in the kidnapping.

“Hindi ko bibitiwan ang driver ni Madame Ces, dahil siya lang makakapagsabi sa relation ni Biyaw sa kidnapping (I will not release the driver of Madame Ces because he is the only one who can tell us Biyaw’s role in the kidnapping),” Kasim said, referring to Marama Hashim, the driver hired by Drilon’s group to drive them when they were abducted in Barangay Adjid in Indanan town on June 8.

Hashim said it was Biyaw who led Drilon’s group to the kidnappers in a forested area in Indanan and returned alone four hours later.(PDI)

Pimentel says PNP photo vs Isnaji propaganda, not proof

June 27, 2008

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 16:19:00 06/21/2008

 

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. cautioned the police on Saturday against rushing to link Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji to the kidnapping of ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon and three others.

Pimentel said that a photo showing Isnaji, his son Haider and Sulu Vice Governor Lady Anne Sahidulla handling the ransom money in the Isnajis’ home on June 12 was not proof that he had a hand in the kidnapping.

”That’s not proof of complicity. When you’re being used as negotiator, you must count the money that is being given to you so the people and the kidnappers may know,” he said at the Sulo Hotel press forum.

The senator from Mindanao said police claims that Isnaji pocketed P3 million of the P5 million ransom were “easier said than done.”

”We are… supposedly governed by the rule of law. We should be cautious in issuing these charges that will only exacerbate the situation in Mindanao. This is not to say that I’m sure Mayor Isnaji has nothing to do with the kidnapping,” he said.

”To claim that, on the basis of the photograph, it’s sure that Mayor Alvarez and his son were involved in the kidnapping, that’s not evidence, but propaganda,” he added.

The Philippine National Police has filed kidnap-for-ransom charges against
the Isnajis, who acted as negotiators, and at least 14 others.

PNP officials said the picture was part of the incriminating evidence against the Isnajis.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the picture, along with a video showing Isnaji counting the money and the testimony of PNP Intelligence Group chief Senior Superintendent Winnie Quidato, constituted strong evidence that could pin down the Isnajis on kidnapping charges.

Former Human Rights Commissioner Nasser Marohomsalic, for his part, said the “warrantless arrest” of the Isnajis after their debriefing violated their rights.

”What happened to them was warrantless arrest. But this did not comply with the rules on warrantless arrest,” he said in the same forum.

There are two requirements in warrantless arrest, namely, personal knowledge of the crime by the arresting officer and immediate arrest of the suspect, according to the former commissioner.

”But this did not happen. What happened was they were brought here for debriefing,” he said.

Marohomsalic said he doubted if the police informed the Isnajis of their rights under the Miranda Doctrine, including the right to counsel and to remain silent, because their arrest happened shortly after their debriefing.

”I doubt it very much if these rights were given to the Isnajis during all the while,” he said. “That’s why they should be released.”

NET 25 reporter Arlyn dela Cruz, herself a kidnap victim, said she has not come across any information linking Mayor Isnaji to kidnapping. She said he was the most popular and influential Muslim leader after Nur Misuari, former chair of the Moro National Liberation Front.

”All throughout the peace negotiations, if Misuari wasn’t available, he takes his place. He’s a trusted man in the MNLF,” she said after the forum.

Pimentel also cautioned the police against being used as a political tool to discredit Mayor Isnaji, who is reportedly planning to run for governor in the upcoming elections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in August.

”Isnaji is a candidate for governor in ARMM. And it’s very possible that some intrigue has crept into the whole evaluation of things… he’s now being tagged as a suspect here. It’s one way of eliminating him from active participation in the campaign,” he said.

”I’m apprehensive that politics has crept into this issue. That’s why the PNP should be very careful that they do not emerge as a tool of some powerful elements which may try to derail the candidacy of Isnaji,” he added.(PDI)

Yano: Army won’t flinch even when confronted by child rebels

June 27, 2008

By Vincent Cabreza
Northern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 18:48:00 06/21/2008

 

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City, Philippines — Some abductors of an ABS-CBN news team may have turned out to be teenagers or children, but Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Alexander Yano, on Saturday said this will not compel soldiers to ease offensives against extremist groups in Sulu.

Government attacks on bases of suspected terrorists and rebels in Sulu and other parts of Mindanao never stopped, but were only highlighted by the kidnapping of ABS-CBN reporter Ces Oreña-Drilon, her two cameramen and a university professor, Yano said.

“If they are terrorists, then definitely we cannot [set them apart from their adult counterparts] when they are in combat. Anybody carrying arms will have to be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

He said the kidnapping did not also mean that the government was facing a resurgence of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“It was highlighted by media but that doesn’t mean they are getting stronger. One incident [like Drilon's kidnapping] would not make the bandits very strong,” he said.

Yano was guest during the incorporation of Philippine Military Academy Class 2012 into the cadet corps. He was given a commendation here as an outstanding alumnus by Major General Leopoldo Maligalig, PMA superintendent.

Yano did not mention the kidnapping in his speech. But replying to reporters’ questions, he said Drilon’s abduction did not change the AFP’s counter-terrorism offensives in Mindanao.

“All reports say they are [Abu Sayyaf] and there may be collusion with other criminal groups… But they are part of the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

Yano said he has not ordered a review of procedures when soldiers are confronted by armed teenagers or children.

“[There will be] no adjustments. A firearm carried by a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old would kill soldiers the same way,” he said.

Yano declined to comment on Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, who was implicated in the abduction after he acted as a negotiator. He said it was a police matter.

Yano said his chief concern was how the Drilon abduction impacted on Mindanao.

“We should not generalize [the situation in] Mindanao; it is a large island. There are isolated cases… by and large the Mindanao situation is [peaceful],” he said.

He said the abduction was also instructional on how future media coverage should be undertaken in conflict-affected regions of the country.

The military does not want to issue regulations for fear it would be mistaken for media curtailment, but Yano urged reporters to accept military advisories when they enter conflict areas.(PDI)

============================

My Take:

Delikado ito.  Di pa nga proven kung bandit group nga na may child warrior ang tumira kina Ces o mga propesyunal na mersenaryong may aral sa militari (dahil sa galing ng execution nila ng kanilang negosasyon), heto’t nagyayabang na ang AFP at nangongondisyon sa utak natin para kung may ipresenta silang patay na bata o nahuling bata sa mga susunod na araw e maniniwala na tayong bandit member nga ang batang yaon.

Ah. Same old, scape-goat hunting.  Tas ngayon, pati bata papatayin nila para lang may maiturong bandidong nakasagupa nila.

Nakakatakot na ang AFP ngayon.

Drilon Kidnapping: A Case of Gauging Risks for a Story

June 22, 2008

By Alan Davis
IWPR Director of Special Projects

MANILA, Philippines — Any blog on the June 8 Sulu kidnapping of the ABS CBN news team and their ‘fixer’ Professor Octavio Dinampo has to begin with a wish for the safe and speedy release of the remaining captives. At the back of many media professionals is the sense of, ‘there but for the grace of God…’

Over the past few days I have pondered hard on whether now is a suitable time to write a piece on safety and security of journalists in such situations. It is a matter for debate to be sure — yet I think the answer has to be ‘yes’ if it gets just one journalist to carefully consider when the risk of following a story outweighs the benefit of securing a story. Time spent on good risk assessment is never wasted and I encourage those who have not done any formal safety training to click on the project’s safety and security pages.

Meantime amid the column inches published so far on the kidnapping, the June 13 editorial and cartoon in the Philippine Daily Inquirer are well worth reflecting upon.

The cartoon which shows a TV crew interviewing a shadowy gunman in the jungle and inside the huge jaws of a menacing head labeled Abu Sayyaf should be cut out and pinned on every newsroom notice-board – perfectly summarizing as it does, the risks journalists face every time they seek face to face interviews with insurgents and/or bandits.

Everybody loves the idea of a scoop and an exclusive. Live pictures are much more dramatic and sell much easier than words. But as the cartoon demonstrates, journalists walk into potential traps every time they try and meet up with people who by their very actions will be hidden and hard to locate or track down.

A cartoon previously in I think the Philippine Star had the Abu Sayyaf camp as a spider’s lair. True enough.

Of course risks are all part of the business we are in. But as the security consultants who train journalists on hostile environment courses tell us — risks must be known, measured and manageable. Journalists must remain in control of their own movements and decisions and avoid delegating their own security to others.

For sure this is sometimes much easier said than done, and we have probably all done things that in retrospect seemed foolhardy. I have for sure and remember well the sleepless night I had before taking the fast boat to Basilan.

The line between getting into serious trouble and getting back home with a good experience and story is a very fine one. Usually too it is invisible and you never know if you have crossed it until it is too late.

Another thing that safety training teaches us is that there are no leaders and no followers when it comes to your own personal security. Individuals are autonomous and there should never be any pressure to ‘go along’ because colleagues or competitors are. There is no shame in staying out of harm’s way.

At the same time it is right and proper to salute those who keep us informed from difficult and dangerous areas.

In such cases, where there is an overriding and agreed reason and need to interview ‘outlaws’ or people who are fighting under a certain flag, cause or ideology, we must find safer ways of doing it. The more extreme the ideology, the more caution needs to be applied.

In southern Afghanistan, where my IWPR colleagues work to develop the capacity of local media to serve society, we encourage our local trainees to contact the Taliban by phone where there is a compelling reason to secure a quote from them and which does not give them undue platform or any opportunity to propagandize.

The ABS CBN crew was criticized for not liaising with the military upon arrival in Jolo –but journalists should always remain wary in such instances in case they are used as ‘bait’. Equally and much more so we need to be very, very careful in dealing with groups with no known agenda beyond that of sowing fear and terror. In general – though not always – it is usually safer to cover groups with political or territorial positions. People who called themselves The Sword of God (Abu Sayyaf) are obviously driven by a religious ideology that suggests they should only ever be approached with extra special care.

The Inquirer editorial makes several more good points – the first of which is to be continually suspicious of offers or opportunities to interview groups or individuals beyond reach as it will invariably mean you going to them. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t do it.

The second is that we shouldn’t allow anybody or any group or official to accuse somebody or blacken their name without just cause. In this case, the PNP seem to be questioning the motives of Professor Dinampo. But as the law teaches us all, people are innocent, until…

The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project only very recently published a story on Sulu which tried to show a balanced picture of what is happening there: an island with a great many problems and pressures and the image people have of it is of terror and conflict – not education or development which is also ongoing there.

Sadly the kidnapping will just reaffirm the negative picture most people have of Sulu. We should not though let a small band of kidnappers stigmatize an entire community or people.

Ultimately, as well as our prayers, the ABS CBN team and their fixer deserve credit for keeping focus on a story and going where the story is to see for themselves and not simply reporting from Manila and helping perpetuate stereotypes through ignorance. The day Sulu or any other place becomes a no-go zone for journalists will be a black day indeed.

That said, while ordinary people and critical issues and challenges deserve the oxygen of publicity always, we should also ask whether the same applies to a renowned group of kidnappers. (PinoyPress)

Timeline of Kidnapping

June 21, 2008

The following chronology was based on a Philippine National Police report released Friday.

June 7, 2008 (Saturday)
Ces Oreña-Drilon and cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama arrived at 2:45 p.m. in Jolo town, the capital of Sulu province.

June 8, 2008: Day 1 in captivity
At 9:20 a.m., Drilon’s group was picked up at Sulu State College by professor Octavio Dinampo and Juamil Biyaw, also known as “Commander Mameng,” who was the group’s driver and guide. They proceeded to Barangay Adjid, Indanan, where three armed men met them at a waiting shed.
The group proceeded to a tapahan (copra dryer) and had lunch. Later the group was met a man known as “Putol,” after which the mobile phones of Drilon and company were confiscated by the armed men.
The group continued walking until they reached another abandoned nipa hut in Barangay Panding, Patikul, where they rested.
At this point a certain Roger Isha, believed to be an Abu Sayyaf member, took all their personal belongings.
The group resumed walking until they reached an abandoned mosque at Barangay Bungkaong, Patikul. They ate dinner, as they waited for a certain Commander Tek.

June 9, 2008: Day 2
Around 2 a.m., the group reached a nipa hut at the Sitio Datagkanmansarin, Barangay Dayaran, Patikul, where they slept.
Then at 6 a.m., Drilon was told that they were kidnapped. But she was ordered not to tell her companions or else they will be killed. They stayed in the area the whole day, when more armed people arrived.
At 5 p.m., the group resumed walking until they reached Tibig Bato, Barangay Darayan, Patikul. As Drilon’s group rested, their captors recited prayers.
Afterwards, the group continued walking for at least 30 minutes until they reached an abandoned house with no walls at Sitio Kanbadal, Barangay Panglayahan, Patikul, where they spent the night.

June 10, 2008: Day 3
At 6 a.m., the group continued walking for at least 15 minutes until they reached their final harboring site at Mount Tunggol in Barangay Pansul, Patikul.
It was during this time when the captors issued their first demand. The victims were tied up, and Valderama was told he was going to be beheaded if ransom was not paid.

June 12, 2008: Day 5
The police had no report about what transpired on June 11. But the day after, the captors again demanded ransom.
At 2 p.m. on the fifth day, Valderama together with 11 armed men left the area. When they reached Sitio Danasi, Barangay Sinumaan, Talipao, Valderma was picked up by Haider “Jun” Isnaji and two officers of the Philippine National Police.

June 13, 2008: Day 6
At 11 a.m., Valderama was brought to Zamboanga City aboard a Philippine Navy plane.
Then at 2 p.m., the crisis management team of Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu was convened at the governor’s office, to discuss how Drilon and the remaining hostages could also be released.

June 14, 2008: Day 7
At 1 p.m., Jumail Biyaw, alias Mameng, was arrested by Task Force Comet in Talipao, Sulu, through the effort of an assistant secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Then at 2 p.m., a meeting was convened in Zamboanga City to plan the safe recovery of Drilon and company. Those who attended included the Interior and Local Government secretary, the national police chief, the police regional director, and various officials from region nine and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

June 15, 2008: Day 8
At 4 a.m., the kidnappers move with their hostages to an area near Sitio Pigih Daho, Barangay Bayog, Talipao, Sulu.

June 16, 2008: Day 9
This was the day when the Abu Sayyaf issued an ultimatum for ransom to be paid by noon the following day or else the hostages will be killed.

June 17, 2008: Day 10
At 10:10 a.m., the secretary of Interior and Local Government, the national police chief, and their staff arrived at the provincial office of the police in region 9. There they assessed the situation. The national police and the military agreed to launch an assault against the kidnappers, if the hostages are harmed.
At noon, the kidnappers extended the deadline for another 24 hours, and reports came in that the extension may be indefinite.
At 11:53 p.m., Drilon and the remaining hostages were released by the kidnappers at Sitio Danasih, Barangay Sinumaan, Talipao, Sulu. They were picked up by Jun Isnaji and four policemen.

June 18, 2008: Day 11
At 2:45 a.m., Drilon and others were flown from Jolo to Zamboanga City aboard two military helicopters. Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, Mayor Alvares Isnaji of Indanan and his son Jun accompanied the released hostages.
Between 3 a.m. and 3:40 a.m., Drilon and party arrived at Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City and were met by the national police chief, Director Gen. Avelino Razon; Lt. Gen Nelson Allaga, commander of the Western Mindanao Command; and other police and military officials.
Drilon and her companions were brought to the Special Action Force Seaborne Office at Zamboanga City for processing and medical checkup. Doctors found them OK, except for mild dehydration and mosquito bites.
The Armed Forces and the national police, led by Task Force Comet, then launched pursuit operations against the kidnappers.
At 11:45 a.m. Drilon, Valderama and Encarnacion were turned over to Maria Ressa, ABS-CBN vice president for operations at Vista del Mar beach Resort in Zamboanga. Sen. Loren Legarda, who had been helping the negotiations for the release of Drilon and her companions for several days, was also present.
– Jefferson Antiporda(ManilaTimes)

Kuro Hinggil sa Nangyaring Kidnapan sa Sulu: Pagkalikot ng Isipang Malikot Habang Naghihintay ng Antok

June 20, 2008

(Babala: Ito ay opinyon lamang ng may akda.  Paumanhin sa mga masasaktan, kung meron man.  Katatapos lang kasi ng may-akda na magbasa ng Little Drummer Girl.)

Nitong mga nakaraang araw, isinabit ko sa aking blog ang mga haka ko hinggil sa tunay na dahilan ng pagkaka-“kidnap” kay Ces at sa mga kasama niya (pinili ko si ces bilang tag dahil siya ang pinaka-sikat sa kanilang apat)­.

Matapos kong mapanood ang interview ng GMA7 kay Propesor Dinampo, isa sa mga na-“kidnap”, mas tumibay ang paniniwala ko na ang naganap na “kidnapan” sa Sulu ay isa sa mga pinakamalaking dramang ipinalabas sa entablado ng tunay na buhay, para isulong ang isang politikal na interes sa paparating na ARMM elections.

Sa interview, buong linaw niyang ikinwento ang pangyayari.  At bagamat si Sahiron ang kanilang pakay, wala siyang Sahirong nakita, maging noong mga panahong sila’y bihag na.  Kinumpirma din niya na si Biyaw nga ang kanilang giya, pati ang pagkalas ni Biyaw nang sila’y na-secure na ng mga armado.  Sabi ni Biyaw, ay mauuna na daw siya ayon sa utos ni Sahiron.

Ang ganitong eksena ay nauna nang nakumpirma batay na rin sa kwento ng drayber ng dyip na inarkila ng grupo ni Ces papunta sa lugar.

Samantala, kinumpirma na ng mismong PNP na sinungaling ang kanilang pinuno nang aminin nilang nagbayad nga ng ransom ang pamilya ni Ces at nandun pa ang isa nilang opisyal sa “intelligence.”   Nakakatawang si Razon din ang bumali sa una niyang sinabi.  Haha.  Nakakatawa.  Kayo na lang mag-isip ng tamang kataga na magsasalarawan sa kanya at sa kanyang ginawa.

Ano ngayon ang implikasyon ng mga kaganapang ito?

Hindi Abu Sayaff Group ang dumukot kina Ces.  Maging ang PNP ay hindi pa magawang pangalanan ng direkta ang ASG bilang siyang direktang may gawa ng krimen.  Bakit kaya?  Dahil ba sa  alam ng PNP kung sino ang may hawak noon kina Ces?

May mga obserbasyong lumabas na nagpapahiwatig na hindi ASG ang mga kidnapper.  Isa na rito ang obserbasyon na naninigarilyo ang ilan sa mga armadong dumukot kina Ces, ayon sa mga taga-doon sa lugar, ang mga tunay na ASG daw ay hindi naninigarilyo.

Wala ring ilinalabas na statement ang ASG.  Normally, ang kanilang paraan ng pakikipagnegsasyon ay sa pamamagitan ng midya.  Ang objective kasi nila, makapagpropaganda, at makapaghatid ng banta sa kanilang mga kalaban, na sila’y malupit, dapat katakutan, at handang lumaban ng patayan.

Ang ganitong aura ay kataka-takang wala sa buong haba ng panahon ng negosasyon.  Bakit di lumabas si Sahiron?  Kung siya nga ang nagpadukot, dapat lumabas siya, siya ang nagclaim, siya ang nakipagnegosasyon, dahil lilitaw at lilitaw din ang kanyang pangalan.  Dahil mas malaking propaganda score/point ang makakabig niya kung siya mismo ang magsasalita.  Dahil mas magiging credible ang kanilang paghingi ng pera.  Dahil mas malaking pera ang mahihingi nila kung malalaman ng mga pinapaukulan nila na siya, si Raddulan Sahiron, pinuno ng mapanganib na ASG, ang may hawak kina Ces, at dapat na mapagbigyan ang kanyang hiling dahil siya, sampu ng kanyang ASG ay namumugot ng ulo pag hindi nakukuha ang kanilang gusto.  Yan ay kung siya nga at ang ASG ang dumukot kina Ces.

Ang papel na ginampanan naman ni Biyaw, kilala bilang ahente ng military sa lugar,(pinabulaanan ito ni Biyaw sa kanyang affidavit at inamin niyang marami lang siyang kaibigan sa militari) ay kapansin-pansin at nagbibigay ng kabaliktarang kulay sa claim ng mga taga-gobyerno na ASG ang may hawak kina Ces.

Ang manner naman ng pakikipagnegosasyon – smooth, intelligent, cool – ay hindi estilo ng ASG.  Ang flow ng negosasyon, batay sa pagbasa ko sa mga pagkakasunud-sund ng hakbang ng mga kidnapper, ay anticipatory.  Anticipated nila ang susunod na hakbang ng kabilang linya.  Anticipated nila ang mararamdaman ng kabilang linya.  Anticipated nila ang init ng atensyong ilinalaan ng midya sa kasong ito.  At ang aktitud nila ay ang ingatan ang kanilang identity, liban sa malinaw na pagpapabaya nila sa midya na tawagin silang mga ASG.  Ang galing (hindi ito papuri)nga nila, dahil matagumpay nilang nagawang emisaryo si Encarnacion para direktang maipaabot sa pamilya ni Ces ang kalagayan ng kanilang grupo at ang mga kahilingan ng mga kidnapper.

Pinakahuling hibla ng patunay na hindi ASG ang dumukot kina Ces ay ang kawalan ng presensya ni Sahiron at ng sinumang lider na kinikilala sa hanay ng ASG.

Linabag ng pamahalaan ang sarili nitong patakarang “No Ransom”.  Una nang nabalita na nagkaroon ng bayaran, pero pilit pa itong pinagtakpan ng mga elemento ng pamahalaang ito.  At ngayong kinakailangan nilang maging credible para paniwalaan sila sa claim nilang ang mga Isnaji ang mastermind sa pangingidnap kina Ces, basta na lang nilang ilalantad sa atin ang kanilang ebidensya: isang larawan na nagpapatunay na ang pamahalaang ito ay nakikipagsabwatan sa mga terorista sa pamamagitan ng pagbabayad ng ransom sa kanila?  (Pag lumabas yung sinasabi nilang “iba pang ebidensya”, baka magbago ang opinion ko.)

Kawawa naman si Heneral Razon.  Lubusang sinira ng pamahalaang ito ang kanyang pangalan, Razon, reason.  Nagi itong alibi, palusot, pagsisinungaling.  Isipin nyo na lang, sinabi niya on national coverage, in his capacity as PNP chief na walang bayaran ng ransom na naganap para mapalaya ang grupo nina Ces, tapos on national coverage din, still in his capacity as PNP head, sasabihin niyang nagbayad nga ng ransom ang pamilya ni Ces, effectively telling everyone that he is a liar, Legarda is a liar, and everyone else who tells everybody that there is no ransom paid are liar.  At may ebidensya pa siyang ilinabas para patunayan na sinungaling nga sila!

Kawawa naman si General.  Malamang ay napakalaki ng utang na loob niya sa taong pinoprotektahan niya, kung di man siya takot dito, para lang gawin niya ang kahihiyang ito sa kanyang sarili.  (Biglang nagflashback sa isipan ko yung mga sinabi noon ni General Razon: na gas blast daw ang dahilan ng pagsabog sa Glorietta, na media person daw ang nagpatakas kay Faeldon, etc… Poong mahabagin!  Paano kung lahat ng iyon ay pawang kasinungalingan din? Wag naman sana!)

Dahil sa kaganapang ito, ang pamahalaan mismo ang nag-encourage sa ilan nating kababayan na magtayo ng mga bagong Kidnap 4 Ransom groups dahil ipinakita nilang nagbabayad naman pala talaga ng ransom ang mga pamilya ng nakikidnap.

Naging bulag at iresponsable ang ilang elemento ng midya sa paghahatid ng balita.  Umasa ang mga ito sa spoon-fed info mula sa mga taga-gobyerno.

Unwittingly, naging bahagi ang midya sa isang grandiosong panloloko sa taumbayan.  At nanatili silang bahagi nito sa pamamagitan ng pagbabalita na ASG ang may hawak kina Ces sa kabila ng kawalan nila ng batayang impormasyon na magpapatotoo sa kanilang balita.

Sana naman, sa panahong nagdududa sila sa mga info na natatanggap nila e, naghanap na lang sana sila ng iba pang source o kaya e, nanahimik na lang sana sila.

Mula sa mga implikasyong ito, hindi ko maiwasang  kantiin ang panig ng politika at iugnay ito sa pagkakadukot sa grupo ni Ces, at sa pinakahuling kaganapan, kung saan idinidiin na ng mga taga-pamahalaan si Mayor Alvarez Isnaji bilang siya umanong mastermind ng pangingidnap sa grupo nina Ces.

(Hindi ko na ilalahad ang opinyon ko sa kriminal na aspeto ng akusasyon ng pamahalaan kay Alkalde Isnaji dahil korte na ang bahalang kumanti dito, pero nais kong pasadahan ang politikal na aspeto nito na may kaugnayan sa isang napakalaking aktibidad na nakatakdang maganap sa likod ng kidnapang ito: ang lokal na halalan sa Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).)

Ang Mindanaw ang pinakamayamang rekurso ngayon ng likas na yaman, dahil ito na lang ang may mga nalalabi pang lugar na hindi pa nagagahasa ng mga kurakot na opisyal ng pamahalaan at ng mga negosyanteng kakutsaba nito, kasama ang mga dayuhang mangangapital lalo na yaong mga galling sa Estados Unidos.

Ang pakikipag-usap ng pamahalaan sa mga Moro para abutin ang isang “kapayapaan” sa Mindanaw, ang presensya ng sangkaterbang sundalo sa isla ng Mindanaw, ang presensya ng mga dayuhang armadong Kano dito.  Lahat ng ito ay malinaw na nagtuturo na ang Mindanaw ang nalalabing ‘eden’ ng Pilipinas.

At ang ARMM elections ay isang avenue para legal na makuha ang kontrol sa naturang erya.

Isa sa mga napapabalitang tatakbong gobernador sa halalang ito si G. Isnaji.  At bilang isang dating kabahagi ng Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), at alyado ni Nur Misuari, si G. Isnaji ay masasabing may komand at may malaking potensyal na manalo sa halalang paparating, lalo pa’t nasa kainitan ngayon ang isyu hinggil sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng pamahalaan at ng MNLF.

Kaya’t tulad ng ibang mga nagdududa, di ko rin maiwasang magtaka sa timing, at sa tunay na motibo ng “sudden twist of events” sa gitna ng “pangingidnap” kina Ces.

Sa isa kong litanya sa blog , nabanggit ko ang posibilidad nang pagkakaroon ng isang grand drama, designed to set-up Mayor Isnaji, and temporarily hold him at bay, effectively pushing him out of the gobernatorial race (Kahit pa matuloy ang kandidatura niya, tiyak namang papahirapan siya ng administrasyon sa pangangampanya dahil nga sa kasong ito na kinakaharap niya), and snatch the ARMM leadership away for another three good years.

Ang grand drama ay malamang na nag-umpisa sa planning stage pa lang ni Propesor Dinampo.  Dahil involve na mula sa simula si Bidaw, malamang ay na-feed na ni Bidaw ang mga kakutsaba niya at this point para mapagplanuhan na nila ang gagawin.  Baka nga ang nakakausap ni Propesor Dinampo noon over the phone is not the real Sahiron.  Maybe it’s one of the kidnappers posing as Sahiron, kasi kung si Sahiron nga ang kausap ni Dinampo from the very start e, dapat kahit utot ni Sahiron maaamoy nila dun sa lugar.  Dapat e nakapagplano din sana ang ASG ng kahit isang statement for the media na magiging behikulo din nila ng kanilang propaganda.

At nang ideklara ng Anti-Terrorism Council ng gobyerno na hindi aplikable sa kasong ito ang Human Security Act (HSA) – sa kabila ng pagpapakalat ng ilang mga elemento ng pamahalaan na ASG ang dumukot kila Ces (Ang ASG po ay deklarado ng pamahalaan bilang isang teroristang grupo, at popular sa bansa bilang isang teroristang grupo), opisyal nang naging bahagi ng drama ang pamahalaan.  Ang aksyong ito ng pamahalaan ang mitsa ng aking mga pagdududa.  Ito ang dahilan kung bakit naging isang malaking katanungan sa akin ang nature ng kidnapping at ang mga susunod na takbo ng mga pangyayari

At ngayong papalapit na ang SONA, hindi ko rin maiwasang iugnay ito sa ihinahandang sobrang lupeeeeet na speech ni PGMA.  Ah, tiyak na nasa front row ng gallery sina Ces at iba pa.  Hmmm… baka nga maging senatoriable pa si Ces, o ha?

Napakakumplikado ng sitwasyon ngayon.  Kahit nga sina Ces at Propesor Dinampo eh, kapag naririnig ko ang mga paliwanag nila sa midya ngayon eh, di ko na rin maiwasang mag-isip kung at this point ba eh, na-hire na rin sila para maging mga aktor ng pinakabagong teleserye ng taon.

Hay!

Tanging dalangin ko lang ay sana’y mali ako.  Nakakalungkot at nakakatakot kasi kung bandang huli’y masasabi kong tama pala talaga ako.

Hay sige… tulog na ako, nawawalan na ako ng mga punto at namimigat na ang mga mata ko.  Sa wakas ay dumating na rin ang antok na kanina ko pa hinihintay..  Buti na lang at may pangyayaring ganito, at least hindi ako naboryong sa pagpapa-antok sa sarili ko. (6:56am)

TV reporter’s family paid P5M but mayor kept P3M–officials

June 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) The family of a television reporter who was abducted by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf paid P5 million to her captors although only P2 million reached them, police and justice officials disclosed Friday.

In separate press conferences, Philippine National Police Chief Avelino Razon and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said that the family of ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon gave the ransom to Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, who was negotiating for her release, along with her crew and a professor, after they were abducted last June 8 in Sulu.

The kidnappers initially demanded a P15-million ransom.

“The initial payment was P5 million, however P2 million lang naibigay sa [only P2 million was given to the] kidnap for ransom group and the P3 million was kept by Mayor Isnaji,” said Razon.

Razon showed a picture of Isnaji and several others counting the money.

Razon also said that based on intelligence information gathered, the leader of the kidnap gang was identified as “Larin-Larin,” an alleged alias of Isnaji.

Gonzalez confirmed this, saying it was former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Nur Misuari who identified “Larin-Larin” as Mayor Isnaji, being a member of the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF’s) central committee that signed the peace agreement in 1996.

Gonzalez said during the de-briefing of the victims, they claimed that they heard their abductors mention “Larin-Larin.”

Gonzalez also said that based on witnesses’ accounts, Isnaji allegedly pocketed P3 million and gave the balance to the abductors.

Gonzalez said the money was divided in the house of Isnaji.

Razon said an intelligence officer, Senior Superintendent Winnie Quidato, was sent to Jolo to “observe” Isnaji.

Chief Superintendent Raul Castañeda, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief, also noted the inconsistencies in Isnaji’s statements.

Castañeda cited that in a previous media interview Isnaji mentioned a P100,000 “board and lodging fee” that was given to the kidnappers in exchange for the release of Valderama, one of two cameramen of Drilon, but which the mayor never mentioned during the interrogation.

Isnaji and his son were charged with kidnap for ransom at inquest proceedings at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group office at the PNP that began late Thursday and ended early Friday.

=============================

My Take:

I will take the Isnaji’s innocent, until proven guilty.  Tutal yan naman ang sabi ng batas.

That’s why at this very moment, i smell something fishy on this development. one glaring point is: how the hell did the PNP know that only P2M of the of the P5M ransom money was delivered to the kidnap group?  Hmmm…

which raises another question from my mind… kung ASG nga ang dumukot kay Ces, hindi ito magkukuwento ng ganun kay ces (hOy ces, tangna, P2M lang ang natanggap namin, bwisit, sige papalayain ka na namin kahit P2M lang mula sa usapan nating P5M ang natanggap namin, bwisit! kahit alam naming your worth mre than P2M o P5M, sige na! Uwi na! lAYA KA NA, cES!) dahil alam ng ASG na hindi na sila katatakutan o makikipagtawaran na lang ang mga pamilya ng kanilang biktima sa mga susunod nilang kidnapping, kapag lumabas ang ganitong kwento.  Sino ba talaga ang dumukot kay Ces? (update: sabi nila may intel daw sila don na nagpanggap na dilg at apparently ay pinabayaan lang sina isnaji with the vice guv to cunt the ransom and deliver it to the kidnappers)

Hmm… hindi kaya isa itong grand design laban sa mga MNlf ngayong darating na ARMM elections?  The mere fact na hindi pinigilan ng pamahalaan ang pamilya ni Ces na magbayad ng ransom, nagiging malinaw na someone in the highest places of political power is in favor of it, to create the biggest political set-up of the year!

Normally, the bullet-headed military and macho-PNP will stomp the yard and go on attacking the kidnappers.  Pero hindi ito nangyari.  Eto’t pumasok lang sa eksena ang pulisya nung huling bahagi na ng drama, at sila pa nga ang nagyabang na mapapalaya na sina ces, meaning, alam nila na magbabayad na ng ransom ang pamilya ni ces.  samantala, ang afp naman ay nagpaputok ng ilang bomba, indikasyon kaya ito na sinisenyasan na nila ang mga may hawak kay ces na tama na, next phase of the plan na?

WE ARE WITNESSING here now the philippine version of the “wag the dog” story, and the way ces is pitching in her own view/analyses/opinion, i can’t tell f she is indeed a victim or is she now a part of this year’s biggest drama.

Sensya na sa mga maiirita, likot lang kasi ng isip ko.  I wuld be very glad if im wrong.  I wud be very sad if im right.

Editorial Cartoon: Karambola sa wala

June 20, 2008

Tsk tsk tsk!

Drilon, Legarda on Isnaji’s role: Maybe

June 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—“Maybe.”

Ces Drilon could not give a categorical reply when asked if Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji had conspired with her kidnappers, as police officials have alleged.

Drilon talked to reporters before attending a thanksgiving Mass with her family, close friends and colleagues Thursday at Medical City hospital in Pasig City where she was confined.

“The mayor … maybe,” said Drilon.

Drilon said her suspicion was somehow roused after her abductors chose Isnaji as the main emissary when they previously said that they did not want a politician as a negotiator.

She said she found it confusing and asked them why they chose Isnaji.

“I said I thought no politician, but why the mayor?” she said.

Drilon said her kidnappers told her that they knew Isnaji and if he betrayed them, they could easily kill him or his family.

But she said she was somewhat torn and could not say she was convinced that Isnaji was behind her kidnapping.

“Personally, I can’t say,” she said.

“But there may be some evidence,” she said.

“Of course, we were successfully taken out from the clutches of those guys by his son, so it’s hard to judge,” Drilon said.

She also said that there were no tell-tale signs if Isnaji was a conspirator in her conversations with him. “I didn’t feel that.”

Drilon suspected that phone conversations between Isnaji and the kidnappers could have been tapped.

“So I’m hoping that [wiretaps] will stand in court if ever there was anything to suggest that he is a suspect through the conversations with the kidnappers,” Drilon said.

Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo, who was kidnapped with Drilon, said Thursday in Zamboanga City that he could not believe that Isnaji had been arrested in connection with the abduction.

“I think it is very unfair,” Dinampo told reporters. “Mayor Isnaji and his son were just like anybody else who wanted to help us get out of there. Their becoming suspects is really unfair.”

Temojen Tulawie, provincial chair of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Society in Sulu, expressed surprise at the turn of events.

“We are appealing for the immediate and safe release of the mayor and his son,” said Tulawie.

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday, Sen. Loren Legarda, who played a key role in the negotiations, disclosed that “from the beginning he (Isnaji) was suspected already, that’s why he was withdrawing (as a negotiator).”

“But assuming that he’s not completely clean, he was a necessary cog,” Legarda then said.

The senator said Isnaji was “crucial” to the talks and that he “knew how to use his position.” Somebody, she said, just “needed to focus and tell him what to do.” With a report from Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao(PDI)

=====================

My Take:

2 sides:

1st — If the Isnaji’s are really the mastermind, which is a possiblity, then this is a very good development.

2nd — else, this is another form of moulding the perfect scape-goat, as the real perpetrators flee.  i cannot disregard this point considering the politicalization and the corruption of our armed forces and national police.

on ces’ take: she said “So I’m hoping that [wiretaps] will stand in court if ever there was anything to suggest that he is a suspect through the conversations with the kidnappers” as she commented on th possibility of Isnaji masterminding her abduction.

1. ces is talking here as citizen ces. not as mediaperson ces.  we shuld be very clear about this. she wanted a revenge.  that’s the reason why she unwittingly promoted wire-tapping — journalist’s are against it.  but she’s conscious. conscious of her, being a journalist. that’s why she is not saying that she fully embraces that theory.

2. i pity her. she’s just a rag doll now. being used by the real mastermind to clean-up their track. i hope she’ll soon recover her mind, her composure.  para naman di sha tanggap ng tanggap agad ng spoon-fed information.  it’s time for her to be the media-person ces again, para maview niya ang nangyari sa kanya in a broader perspective and see other possibilities, possibilities that may be bigger than isnaji-possibility.

latest development painted isnaji as an influential man — a reason why he was chosen by the kidnappers to be the negotiator.  he is also a former mnlf oficer — a reason why the military conveniently tagged him suspect.  politically, isnaji is being groomed by some mnlf to be their bet on the upocmming ARMM elections, so the possibility of him being the mastermind and him being the scape-goat or victim of political attacks is present.

PPCRV Tawi Tawi thankful on release of Dinampo, journalists

June 19, 2008

DAVAO CITY, June 18, 2008–The deputy coordinator of Basilan–Sulu-Tawi-tawi (BASUTA)-Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) expressed gratitude after the release of Prof. Octavio Dinampo, ABS-CBN senior correspondent Ces Drilon and cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion late Tuesday night.

Boy Avendaño, deputy coordinator who is based in Tawi-tawi said the release of the captives is a gesture of kindness but he added that any act of kidnapping for whatever reason should not be tolerated.

Dinampo also works as volunteer of PPCRV in Jolo, Sulu.

Avendaño in a telephone interview early dawn, Wednesday also thanked the bishops, priests, religious and lay people nationwide who offered prayers for the release of the victims.

He is also grateful to the Philippine military that in one way or another put pressure on the kidnappers to release their captives.
The bandits agreed to have Mayor Isnaji, a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader to be an emissary. The negotiating team was led by Sulu Governor Sakur Tan and Vice-Governor Hadja Nur Ana Sahidullah.

Avendaño also praised the efforts of the local leaders of Sulu who helped in the negotiation for the safety release of the captives.

The PPCRV team in Sulu will also meet their volunteer Dinampo.

NO RANSOM

Avendaño, who also monitored the plight of the captives, confirmed that there was no ransom paid for the release of the victims.

Earlier, the Abu Sayaff group suspected to be behind the abduction demanded a P15–million ransom for the release of the hostages.

The kidnappers gave Tuesday noon as deadline for the ransom money to be delivered.

“We are just happy that the captives are freed. As to the ransom, it is not an issue as of the moment,” Avendaño said in vernacular.

The group was abducted by armed men on June 8. They were held in captivity for nine days. (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

====================

My Take:

Di na lang sya dapat nagkmentaryo pa sa ransom issue.  tsk.  PPCRV pa naman siya, makakasama sa image niya at iisipin pa ng iba na nagagamit ang PPCRV bilang mouthpice ng gobyerno.  (no ransom paid, is the gov’ts line now, despite the fact that they did paid money and livelihood projects. both are technically known as ransom.)

Editorial Cartoon: The Ces Drilon Abduction Benificiaries

June 18, 2008

Ano pa nga ba?  Naalala ko tuloy yung kanta ni Gary Granada na nagsasabing ‘nanakawan na nga at naholdap si juan pero ang holdaper pa ang pinasalamatan, nabaon sa utang ang bayan ni juan, ngunit ang nagnakaw pa ang pinararangalan.”  Tsk!

Hinggil sa “Pagpapalaya” kina Ces Drilon (Isang Haka)

June 17, 2008

Bago ang aking litanya, nais kong ipaabot ang marubdob na pakiki-isa sa pagsasaya at pagpapasalamat ng pamilya ng mga bihag sa “pagkakalaya” nina Ces, Prof Dinampo at, jim.

Eto na ang litanya…

1. Nabali ang panuntunan ng pamahalaan na “No Ransom”.  At ang pangunahing partido sa paglabag sa patakarang ito ay ang mga tauhan din mismo ng pamahalaan, sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng “board and lodging fee” at “livelihood projects/programs” sa mga “bandido”(i still dont believe its ASG, i will explain it later).

Marami ang agad nagduda nang unang ipagyabang ni Razon ng PNP na anytime sa araw na ito ay lalaya sina ces.  at bagamat, nakahinga ang mga nagduda, di pa rin natanggal ang kanilang haka hinggil sa tunay na dahilan ng “pagpapalaya” kina ces.

Ano ngayon ang implikasyon ng pangyayaring ito?

— A. Wala nang order sa bansang ito.  Kung ang mismong mga nagpapatupad ng batas ang lumalabag sa sarili nitong polisiya, malinaw na isang bulok na pamahalaan ang namumuno sa ating bayan sa kasalukuyan.  Don’t get me wrong, i too, wanted, in fact i prayed, for ces’ and others’ safe release, pero hindi sa pamamagitan ng ransom.

— B. Ito ngayon ang pinaka-lantad na bayaran ng ransom (sa hanay ng mga media person na nakidnap sa mindanao), gamit ang mga katagang “board and lodging fee” at “livelihood programs”  Tiyak na mula sa kasong ito, mas dadami ang bilang ng mga mamamahayag na makikidnap sa mindanao sa mga susunod na araw.  Maraming mga tarantado rin ang maeengganyong magtayo ng kani-kanilang KnR groups dahil alam na nilang magbibigay ng pera ang gobyerno atbpa, kung masyadong sikat ang taong kanilang mabibihag.

Mas lalo lang pinatatag ng aksyong ito ang industriya ng pangingidnap sa ilang bahagi ng mindanao.

— C. Tuluyang sinelyuhan ng aksyong ito ang mindanao bilang pinaka-mapanganib na lugar sa mga mamahayag (dahil nandito naka-pakat ang pinakamaraming bilang ng sundalo, ngunit di magawang pigilan ang mga deklarado nilang maliliit na teroristang grupong tulad ng ASG at JI).

2. Sino naman ang makikinabang sa “paglaya nina ces?

— A. Syempre ang mga kidnapper.  Nagkapera sila.

— B. Ang mga negotiator.  Sumikat sila at pwede nilang i-claim habang-buhay na sila ang dahlan ng paglaya ng mga bihag.  Tyak nang may pambola na sila sa mamamayan para sa darating na halalan.

— C. Ang mga pulis at militar.  Pogi points.  At pera naman para sa mga may kaugnayan sila sa A.

— D. Ang gobyerno, aba tiyak na may headline na si madam gloria sa kanyang SONA!  The very reason why they are supportive (although hindi openly declared — kasi nga sino ba magbibigay nung “livelihodd” na yun? di ba ang gobyerno rin?) abut the possibility of paying smething for the ‘safe’ release of ces et al.

— E. Ang mga bihag mismo.  syempre, ligtas na sila. :)

— F. Ang ABS-CBN.  Abah, sulit naman ang ibinayad nila, kung nagbayad sila.  Dahil kung si ces na ang mag-uulat ng lahat ng nangyari aba, tiyak na mangunguna ito sa ratings!  Siguradng dadami ang advertisers na mga big time.  At sigurado na ang bagong senatoriable mula sa public affairs ng ABS-CBN (pinsan ito ni Sen. Bong kaya tyak may machinery ito si ces kung tatakbo ito).

Ito ang isa sa mga nakatagong dahilan kung bakit may mga media company na hindi masyadong nalulungkot pag may mge reporter silang nasasalang sa ganitong sitwasyon.. Aba naman, magbabayad ka lang pero ang kapalit, isang eksklusibong inside story na nakasakay sa libre at malawak na media hype.  equivalent sabi ko nga, mas maraming pera papasok.

ahh… napakamahal nga naman ng katotohanan sa bansang ito.

3. At ang identity ng mga kidnapper?  Ang kredibilidad ng pagiging asg ng mga ito? (paniwala ko’y di ito mga asg kundi mga mersenaryo o mga aktibong elemento ng army at sibilyan)

Tingin ko, sapat na sa mga kidnappers ang P100,000.  Ang P15M ay pagbabasakali na lang nila na makakuha pa ng malaking pera.  Ang “livelihood” ay hindi naman nila talagang kukunin, dahil alam nilang sa pamamagitan nito’y mati-trace sila ng gobyerno.  Ang “livelihod” ay isang tabing lamang para sa kanilang ligtas na pag-atras.  Ang siguradong babalikan ng mga ahente ng paniktik ng afp ay ang lugar kung saan maipapatupad ang livelihood.  Naturally, ganun talaga.  Kasi otomatikong iisipin na may isang pamilya ng mga ASG ang makikinabang sa ganung proyekto sa espisipikong lugar.  At habang dito nakatutok ang pansin ng mga military intelligence operatives, nandun na sila sa malayo, ligtas.

Tingin ko, nasaksihan natin ang handiwork ng pinakabagong kidnap for ransom group sa mindanaw.  at ang pangingidnap kina ces ay ang una nilang trabaho.  they are just testing the water, kung ano ang magiging reaksyon ng private sector, ng media, at ng ilang elemento ng gobyerno na wala sa kanilang payola.

At dahil dyan, we should expect more kidnapping in the future specially in that particular place.

Ces Drilon, companions free

June 17, 2008

MANILA, Philippines–Kidnapped television reporter Ces Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo were freed late Tuesday night, nine days after they were abducted in Sulu province.

Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon confirmed the hostages were released at around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

“They were picked up by Jun Isnaji and secured by four policemen at Sitio Danasi, lower Sinumaan, Talipao, Sulo and brought to the house of Mayor Alvarez Isnaji,” Razon related in a text message. Jun Isnaji is Haider Isnaji, the mayor’s son.

“Ces Drilon and company are in good condition but they will immediately be given medical attention and appropriate nutrition. A plan for airlift to Zamboanga, and a reunion with family are also being considered,” said Razon.

He said the three will have to first undergo a debriefing in Zamboanga City before they are flown back to Manila.

Drilon, Encarnacion and Dinampo were with another ANS-CBN cameraman, Angelo Valderama, when they were kidnapped in Maimbung, Sulu, on June 8 while they were on the way to interview a top commander of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

Valderama was released on June 12 after a P2-million ransom was reportedly paid for his “board and lodging.”

In a phone interview Tuesday night from Zamboanga City with reporters in Camp Crame, Razon denied that any ransom payment or concession had been made to the kidnappers who were believed to be Abu Sayyaf members.

He said the negotiators had built on the goodwill developed with the kidnappers since the release of Valderama last week and the “cancellation” of Tuesday’s noon deadline for the payment of P15 million.

The release of the hostages, Razon claimed, was merely “due to the persistent and persuasive efforts of the local crisis committee under Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and Governor Sakur Tan.”

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), also confirmed the release of the kidnap victims but declined to provide additional details.

“Ces, Jimmy, and Angelo are finally all free,” ABS-CBN said in a statement. “We are thankful our prayers have been answered and our efforts rewarded.”

“Above all, the release of Ces, Jimmy, and Angelo could not have been possible without the cooperation of the people of Sulu and their local government. We thank them and share their hope for enduring peace in Mindanao,” the statement added.

Razon meanwhile said he had no idea Senator Loren Legarda was part of the negotiations.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer also learned that Legarda had been involved in the negotiations for the last five days at the request of Drilon’s family and ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., where Legarda was a broadcaster for many years before running for the Senate.

The Inquirer learned that Legarda secured the captives’ release without conditions or payment of ransom but on “purely humanitarian grounds.”

No military or police elements were present in the release operations.

“Ces is free. She is resting. Soon, she will be in the hands of her family,” Legarda told dzMM radio.

Legarda said the refusal of the victims’ families to pay ransom, and an imminent military operation, were the breakthrough that led to the release.

“Nung malaman nilang wala silang makukuha [When they realized they won't be getting anything], they were pushed against the wall. Wala na silang mapuntahan [They had nowhere to run],” Legarda said.

“The military operations in the past few days helped,” she said.

The senator said she was in constant contact with Drilon, who put her on speakerphone for her captors to hear.

At one point, Legarda said Drilon told her over the phone crying: “Loren, tell me if you guys can’t do it so I can accept my fate that they will behead us.”

Legarda said Drilon told her that Encarnacion’s hands were tied and was being prepared for beheading at one point.

It was at that instant that “I pressured them, I cajoled them, I appealed to them, I even threatened them. They should be freed,” Legarda related.

Legarda said Drilon’s group was “very upbeat and calm” though tired from the five-hour-long trek from the Sulu hinterlands.

Mayor Isnaji had been under pressure to secure the release of the captives, except that earlier Tuesday, Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said he had stopped all negotiations with the kidnappers.

Haider Isnaji also said he had been on the phone with the kidnappers around six times beginning with their first call at 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I told them that no P15 million is forthcoming, that both the government and ABS-CBN have a no-ransom policy,” he said, adding that the kidnappers “finally dropped the deadline.”

He said he was able to convince the kidnappers “to accept a livelihood package instead.”

Razon also said earlier Tuesday the police and military in Sulu were ready for any “contingency” but their “paramount concern” was the safe release of the three hostages.

Razon said that if there was any lesson from the kidnapping, it was also to properly exercise press freedom.

“Ang aral po dito laging sinasabi hindi natin puwedeng i-exercise press freedom na malalagay ang [The lesson here is we can't exercise press freedom by putting] reporters or journalists in harm’s way, na hawak ng terrorista or criminal elements,” said Razon. With reports from Ed General and Julie S. Alipala Inquirer Mindanao and Alcuin Papa in Manila (PDI)

Drilon, companions released ‘within 24 hours’–PNP chief

June 17, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 5) Philippine National Police ( PNP) Director General Avelino Razon has claimed television reporter Ces Drilon and two companions held hostage by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf will be released “within 24 hours.”

“Payag na silang palayain sina Ces [Drilon],” said Razon in a phone interview with reporters, noting the captors assured the chief negotiator, Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, of the hostages’ safety.

Razon is in Zamboanga City to monitor the situation.

At the same time, Razon maintained that no one was giving in to the kidnappers’ ransom demands.

Earlier, the kidnappers extended indefinitely a Tuesday noon deadline for the payment of a P15-million ransom for Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo.

Another cameraman, Angelo Valderama, was released on June 12 after a reported payoff of P100,000.

The ABS-CBN crew and Dinampo, their guide, were abducted June 8.

Razon said indicators like the release of Valderama and the extension of the deadline showed the safe return of Drilon and the others was possible.

“We are hopeful, optimistic,” said Razon.

He added PNP personnel he had ordered placed on standby earlier in the day as part of a police “contingency plan” would also be pulled out.

“Now that things have turned out differently, hindi na rin kakailanganin ang ganung option [that option is no longer needed],” said Razon.

Razon and Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Nelson Allaga held a news conference to announce that they were expecting positive developments.

Razon said the PNP was doing its best to secure the safe release of three captives. “Their safety is our paramount concern.”

Razon also showed the artist’s sketches of two suspects in the kidnapping — Ottoh Wals alias Tuan Wals and Wallid, and Sulayman Pattah alias Maas and Abu Harris. The government has put up a P500,000 bounty for each of the suspects.

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police chief for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), admitted that the two suspects were “fresh faces, mga bagong mukha and bagong sikat [new faces, fresh faces].”

“Our intelligence community is presently conducting further research regarding the two suspects,” Goltiao said.

Senior Superintendent Julasirim Kasim, Sulu police chief, said the identities of the suspects were established through information provided by the policemen who were among those who picked up assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama, one of the kidnapped ABS-CBN news crew, who was released on June 12.

Chief Superintendent Sukarno Ikbala, the PNP’s community relations head, also said he also did not have enough background on the suspects “because their sketches were just provided by the Directorate for Intelligence.”

Meanwhile, Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji said the kidnappers had given him a “24-hour ultimatum extension.”

In a press conference in Sulu aired live on radio minutes before the noon deadline for the ransom payment expired, Jun Isnaji, son of the mayor, said that the abductors had extended the deadline “indefinitely.”

The young Isnaji said ransom was not discussed during the negotiations but that the captors asked for livelihood projects in exchange for the release of Drilon and company.

The kidnappers had threatened to behead their hostages, Isnaji admitted, but added that they would no longer carry this out.

He said they have been talking with the abductors since about 6 a.m. Tuesday.

But the Indanan mayor said he not sure whether he was still the negotiator because he was asked to stop talking to the kidnappers by Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan.

In a brief phone conversation with the mayor Tuesday afternoon, he said the kidnappers had given him a “24-hour ultimatum extension.”

“It’s 12 noon tomorrow [Wednesday] and we are trying to convince them to release the victims out of humanitarian reason,” Isnaji said.

Tan, however, said he had ordered Isnaji to stop negotiating.

“I told him in person since yesterday [Monday] to cease and desist from negotiating … Sa ngayon walang bagong negotiator kasi pinatigil ko ang negotiation [At this point there is no new negotiator because I ordered a stop to the negotiation],” the governor said in a phone interview.

Gafur Kanain, executive secretary of the mayor, said the kidnappers only extended the deadline to noon Wednesday.

When asked around 2 p.m. Tuesday where Isnaji was, Kanain said the mayor was planning to go to the kidnappers’ lair to personally ask them to release their captives.

But Tan was firm in his decision.

“I told him myself and he knows this. This is his problem if he decides to go to higher authorities. I told him to stop negotiations so that everyone can go home, including the media here, because we are all confused,” the governor said in Filipino.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Isnaji said they sent various text messages to the kidnappers, suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Nagtetext na ako sa kanila [I have sent them text messages] hoping that pag-open nila ng [when they open their] cell phone they will want to continue their negotiations after the deadline,” said Isnaji in a phone interview.

“Kahit na we beg at lumuhod ako ma-release lang sina Ces [I will beg and even kneel down so that Ces and her team will be released], I will do that,” he added, noting that if worse comes to worse, they will have to adhere to the kidnappers’ demand.

He said that if the three captives were really in danger they would rather give in to the captors’ demands than follow the government’s “no-ransom” policy.

“If they are in real danger already, what is more important? Policy or someone’s life? Our problem is we don’t know where to get the money,” said Isnaji.

Isnaji said the kidnappers told him during their last telephone contact early Monday: “If our deadline does not produce a result we will implement our policy regarding the hostages.” He did not elaborate.

The negotiator said he also spoke with Drilon on Monday, when the broadcaster told him the gunmen were tying up the male hostages with rope.

“They are tying up Jimmy and the professor,” he quoted her as saying.

Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome, PNP spokesman, maintained the government’s “no-ransom” policy.

Fatma Dinampo, the professor’s daughter, said their whole family was disappointed by what happened Tuesday.

Fatma said as early as 10 a.m. Tuesday, Isnaji had informed them that there would be no release.

“Naghanda pa naman kami, excited na mother ko, kaming lahat, sa pag-uwi ni Daddy [We even prepared, my mother was excited, all of us, at the thought of Daddy’s homecoming],” Fatma said.

She said her mother, Jainatul, prepared some food to welcome the professor home, and had even invited some close friends.

“Kung ransom ang hinihingi nila, wala naman kaming maibigay, hindi namin kaya magbigay at sinabihan na kami ng civil society group na hindi pwedeng bumigay sa gusto ng mga kidnappers [If they are asking for ransom, there is nothing we can give, we cannot give, and were advised by the civil society group that we cannot give in to the kidnappers’ demands],” Fatma said.

Drilon and two of her crew were abducted in Sulu last week while in pursuit of a story. One of her cameramen, Angelo Valderama was released days later after negotiators paid the P2 million “board and lodging fee” sought by the kidnappers.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered police and troops to recover the hostages alive and military reinforcements arrived in the area on Sunday.

The small group of militants, founded with seed money provided by Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s, have been blamed for the country’s worst terrorist attacks as well as for kidnappings of western tourists and Christian missionaries.

Abu wants P15M ransom for Ces today

June 17, 2008

BY RAYMOND AFRICA

A GROUP of bandits holding ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon, her cameraman, and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo in Sulu yesterday threatened to back out of negotiations if their demand for a P15 million ransom for the three is not met by noon today.

Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, the chief negotiator picked by the bandits led by Albader Parad and Gapur Jumdail, said the kidnappers called him around 8:30 a.m. yesterday and informed him of the “new policy” with regards the kidnapping of Drilon and company.

He said the family of Drilon does not have the money demanded by the bandits.

He said the kidnappers were able to establish direct contact with Drilon’s parents in Manila and demanded the money.

Isnaji and Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan held an emergency meeting to find ways to resolve the matter without paying ransom.

“Nag-warning na sila (kidnappers) bukas or hanggang Tuesday ang ultimatum kung hindi pa madadala ang pera sa Tuesday (June 17) ay baka magbago ang isip nila na wala nang negotiations,” Isnaji told a radio interview.

He said he finds it hard to communicate with the bandits as he talks to them only when they contact him. He said the kidnappers turn their cellphones off after talking to him.

Isnaji said he has been trying to convince the bandits to release Drilon, Dinampo and cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion but they have also been insisting on waiting for Drilon’s parents to bring the money.

He said he was also able to talk to Drilon yesterday morning.

“Ang sabi nga sa akin ni Ces, `Mayor natatakot ako sa kanila at lagi raw kasi nakatutok ang kanyon ng baril sa akin.’ Tapos, sabi pa niya na wala naman silang pera para ibigay sa kanila,” Isnaji said.

Drilon, Encarnacion, Dinampo and Angelo Valderama were snatched Sunday last week in Indanan, Sulu where they were reportedly supposed to interview Abu Sayyaf Radullan Sahiron.

Valderama was released Thursday last week.

PNP chief Avelino Razon said Valderama is still in Zamboanga City undergoing debriefing.

P500,000 BOUNTY

The PNP is offering a P500,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of at least two Abu Sayyaf bandits who are said to be part of the kidnappers.

The two are Sulayman Patta alias Amah Ma’as/Abu Haris, and a “Walid” alias Tuan Wals, members of a still unknown faction of the Abu Sayyaf.

The bounty was approved by the interior department, said Chief Supt. Sukarno Ikbala, police community relations group head.

The Armed Forces, which is part of the crisis management committee handling the case, opposed ransom payment saying the bandit group could use the money to buy arms.

“What would the terrorists do with the huge amount of money? It’s obvious… They would not use that to buy candies,” said Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, chief of the AFP public affairs office.

During the Sipadan hostage crisis in 2000 also in Sulu, the Abu Sayyaf used ransom paid for the freedom of their 21 mostly foreign captives in acquiring new firearms. The ransom payment also attracted new recruits.

Torres said the AFP stands by its policy of “not giving into the demands of terrorists, be it Abu Sayyaf, be it the communist terrorists.”

But, he added, the crisis management committee headed by Tan “will decide collectively on what’s the best course of action to take as the incident develops, as the effort develops.”

NO RESCUE OPERATION

Torres also said there is no military rescue operation but implied the Armed Forces is ready if needed.

On Sunday, the military fired mortar rounds on Abu Sayyaf positions in Indanan town but authorities were quick to point out that the shelling was not aimed at the specific Abu Sayyaf group that is holding the remaining hostages.

“We like to make it clear that the mortar shelling that was conducted by the military in Sulu last Sunday is not a part of the ongoing efforts to locate and secure Ms. Ces Drillon and her group,” Torres said.

“I got word from a military commander in the area that the shelling was far from the reported location of Ms. Ces Drillon and her group,” said Torres.

Torres also said while the shelling could provoke the captors to harm Drilon’s group, “we cannot compromise our operation in going after the other terrorists in the province.”

RECORD OF ATROCITIES

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza confirmed the ransom demand but said government’s “no ransom policy” stays and the Palace is glad that ABS-CBN “has taken the same position.”

Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process before he assumed the post of Ignacio Bunye yesterday, also said the ultimatum should be taken seriously given the Abu Sayyaf’s record of atrocities.

ABS-CBN, in a statement, reiterated it will abide by its policy not to pay ransom “because this would embolden kidnap for ransom groups to abduct other journalists, putting more lives at risk.”

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the ultimatum placed the captives in “very grave danger because they are in the hands of criminals who can show no mercy.”

He said Parad and his group are “hotheaded criminals with unreasonable temperaments and without compunction.” He said they are likely no longer linked with Sahiron, who Gonzalez earlier said sent surrender feelers to him.

He said the kidnappers will surely try to get the most publicity out of the situation.

“The greatest danger here is that we don’t know what’s inside the heads of the kidnappers. Is it really money they want or is it the propaganda value of having a very popular news anchor in their hands? This is a very high-profile case, these criminals must be thinking all along that they cannot hold them for a long time,” he said. - With Victor Reyes, Jocelyn Montemayor and Evangeline de Vera

(Malaya)

=============================

My Take:

1. PNP Bounty: is this an attempt by the PNP to get their share?  The AFP-ASG has ces (i hope im wrong), the politician/negotiator has free publicity, and now the PNP wants to enter the scene with their own money-making scheme (alam nyo ba ang kwento sa likod ng mga pagtanggap ng bounty? — balato, refund ng ibang gastos kunyari etc).  I still hpe im wrong about this.  I will be glad if im wrong.

2. “still unknown faction of ASG” — how convenient.  Is this another sign of casing a new set of scapegoats?  Para pagkatapos nilang mahuli e, saka na mapangalanan kung anong palsyon ng ASG ang may hawak kina ces?

Troops fire mortar shells in Sulu town

June 16, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The military deployed troops and fired mortar rounds Sunday in Indanan, Sulu, in what it said was a move to make its presence felt to Moro bandits who last week kidnapped ABS-CBN journalist Ces Drilon, her cameraman and a peace advocate.

Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, who is negotiating the release of the three kidnap victims being held in a forested area, said the military fired mortar shells on Sitio Timaho and Bud (Mount) Kapok.

Truckloads of troops began moving from a military base on the island of Jolo just before dawn, following a barrage of cannon fire that shook the area, according to a dispatch from Jolo town issued by Agence France Presse.

But the military denied a military operation was launched at that time.

Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, chief of the antiterrorist Task Force Comet, told reporters late Sunday afternoon there were no military operations against Drilon’s kidnappers and that the shelling and troop movement were part of a “drill in an actual situation.”

“We just like them to feel the military presence in the area,” Sabban said.

He also said the activities were just a “rehearsal.”

Lieutenant General Nelson Allaga, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), also said the shelling in Indanan town did not specifically target the group that was holding the ABS-CBN crew.

“There is no connection,” Allaga said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net, referring to the kidnapping and the Sunday offensive. “With or without the kidnapping of Ces, we have long been running after the Abu Sayyaf. That can happen anytime, as long there is a report [of Abu Sayyaf presence], we will strike.”

Earlier Sunday, while celebrating Father’s Day with some of his battalion commanders on a beach in Sulu, Sabban denied that military operations were taking place. “It is unlikely to conduct military operations when negotiation is still going on,” he said.

“The shelling is a military operation that was previously planned even before the abduction,” said Chief Supt. Joel Coltiao, police commander for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

200 families displaced

Sumimpal Khanain, a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said around 25 mortar rounds were fired and that close to 200 families were displaced in Sitio Timaho Bud Kapo and Barangay Siyunugan.

A woman, identified as Sitti Bahari, was reportedly wounded. . “She was rushed this morning to the Sulu Provincial District Hospital,” Khanain said.

The kidnappers are holding Drilon, 46, her assistant cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, and Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo.

The three hostages, along with ABS-CBN cameraman Angelo Valderama, were kidnapped on June 8 while on their way to a secret meeting with Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron. The abductors freed Valderama on June 12 after a P2-million ransom was reportedly paid.

The shelling was taken up during Sunday’s crisis management committee meeting.

According to Isnaji, the kidnappers called on Saturday night, saying they were concerned that government troops were seen near where they were holding the three kidnap victims. He said he pleaded with the Marines not to enter the area.

He said he also urged the kidnappers not to do anything they would later regret.

After the crisis committee meeting Sunday afternoon, Isnaji said the military had explained that the troops’ movement and shelling were “routinary” on their part.

“The Marines explained that it had nothing to do with the negotiations,” he said.

The abductors also called Sunday afternoon.

“They are fine and far away from the shelling),” Isnaji said.

P20-M ransom demand

The mayor said the kidnappers were demanding P20 million in ransom, “but I told them that amount is very impossible to give and that the government maintains a no-ransom policy.”

Isnaji said the kidnappers were Tausug sons and grandsons, aged 15 to 20 years, of his “contemporaries” in the MNLF. He said the kidnappers took up arms because life remained difficult.

Khanain said the kidnappers were “young Tausug boys.”

“They are not organized. They don’t have any name for the group,” he said.

Both Isnaji and Khanain confirmed that these young boys are difficult to manage.

“As a father of the town, a former leader and commander of their fathers and grandfathers in the jungle before, I am trying my best to influence them to give Ces and the two to me without any condition,” Isnaji said.

“All I can assure them is that government is doing its best to address their economic situation and education,” he said.

Military ‘asset’

Goltiao said Juamil Biyaw, alias “Commander Mameng,” had yet to be turned over to police custody by the military. “The turnover did not push through. He is still with Task Force Comet,” he said.

Khanain also called on the Philippine Marines to turn over Biyaw to the local police.

Biyaw was earlier reported to have led Drilon and company to their kidnappers. Biyaw, however, on Saturday showed up at the 3rd Marine Brigade headquarters and denied the allegations that he had a hand in the kidnapping and that he was a military asset.

“If the Marines had nothing to do with this, then they should cooperate and hand … Biyaw to the investigators. The more they keep the suspect, the more people here will think that uniformed people are behind the kidnapping of journalists and a peace advocate,” Khanain said.

Khanain said Biyaw “is not and was never a legitimate organic member of the MNLF.”

Khanain said Biyaw is known in the community as “an asset with a special mission.”

Marama Hashim, the driver hired by Drilon’s group, pointed to Biyaw as the man who led the victims to their abductors.

Goltiao denied news reports saying communication between the abductors and the negotiators had been cut off.

“There is still a line of communication on both sides,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”

Police and military officials say the kidnappers belong to the Abu Sayyaf, which is known for abducting Christians and foreigners and holding them for ransom. The group has beheaded hostages when its ransom demands were not met.

The Abu Sayyaf has been linked by intelligence agencies to the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden and has been involved in the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.

Also Sunday, Encarnacion’s 15-year-old daughter appealed to her father’s abductors to take pity on his family and free the victims. On Saturday, Drilon’s family also made an appeal for her release and Encarnacion’s. With reports from Ed General, Inquirer Mindanao, and Agence France-Presse

==========================

My Take:

Mortar? To make it’s presence felt?

Hmmm… How crafty.  It only shows the real way the military negotiates… with a bang.  nt with reason.

Or, is it the real intention?  Baka naman signal lang nila yun para dun sa mga may hawak kay ces.  na pwede na silang magbago naman ng strat hehehe (assuming na may sabwatan nga, at assuming na military personnels et al nga ang may hawak kila ces).

Peace Adviser Esperon on Sulu kidnap: “It’s a terrorist problem; it’s a police matter”

June 16, 2008

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 June) – “I don’t see it as a threat to the peace process. It’s a terrorist problem. It’s a police matter. So we’ll leave it at that,” retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff, now newly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon said on the June 8 kidnapping in Sulu of a Moro peace advocate and a Manila-based television crew.

“I must tell you at this point I treat the matter as a matter for police action,” Esperon told a noontime press conference at the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MedCo) office.

Esperon, who has been moving around as PAPP since June 6 but will formally take over from Jesus Dureza on June 16, told peace advocates a similar line in a two-hour meeting late Friday afternoon at the Waterfront Insular Hotel.

Professor Octavio Dinampo, chair of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC), ABS-CBN senior reporter Cecilia Victoria “Ces” Drilon and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderrama were abducted Sunday by still unidentified armed men. Valderrama was freed Thursday night upon payment of ransom. Reports of how much was paid ranged from P2 million to P5 million although Indanan Mayor Isnaji Alvarez, whom the abductors accepted as negotiator, was reported to have said only P100,000 was paid for “board and lodging.”

Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, chief of the Philippine National Police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) denied in an interview over ABS-CBN, that ransom was paid.

The group was abducted allegedly by the Abu Sayyaf group. But an Inquirer.net report quoting Sulu police chief, Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim said the driver of the vehicle Drilon hired to bring them to Maimbung told them a “military agent” named Juamil “Maming” Biyaw who was with the group from Jolo to Maimbung and who stopped the vehicle and guided the group to walk towards the interior of Labbah, could be behind the abduction. Hours later, Biyaw returned alone to where the vehicle stopped, to tell the driver to go home.

Esperon told peace advocates the report should be “subject to verification” and should “not be taken hook, line and sinker.”

“I don’t know if real agents really tell the people that they are agents. So subject to verification yan, that should not to be taken hook, line and sinker…Usually real agents don’t say they are agents, especially if they are doing something that is in violation of law.”

“I am not ruling that out,” he said, but stressed it should be “subjected for verification.”

Cocoy Tulawie, chair of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in Sulu said he hoped Esperon could have Biyaw picked up for interrogation as he might be able to provide answers.Tulawie told MindaNews in a telephone interview that they received information that there were smokers among the abductors. “The Abu Sayyaf don’t smoke,” he said.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, MPC secretary-general, told MindaNews that Professor Dinampo had been allowed to talk to his wife, Hainatul, through mobile phone Friday afternoon, though only briefly.

“Be strong enough. Don’t lose hope. Take care of our children,” the professor was quoted as saying.

The MPC’s Council of Elders was among the peace groups that met with Esperon. The Council in the evening held a prayer ritual for the safety and immediate release of Dinampo, Drilon and Encarnacion.

Two chickens were freed to symbolize their collective desire for the hostages to be freed immediately.

The Council of Elders also agreed that Timuay Melanio Ulama, a Teduray and co-chair of the MPC, take over as presiding chair while presiding chair Dinampo is in captivity.

The other MPC co-chair, Father Roberto Layson, OMI, is presently on sabbatical.

At the noontime press conference, Esperon was asked if he, as former Armed Forces Chief of Staff, would recommend a military operation to rescue the hostages in Sulu.

Esperon replied: “I will not suggest at this point any military operation. If, indeed, there will be a need for such, it should come from the negotiating panels and the crisis management group. As it is, I’m not inputting yet into the matter because I don’t see it as a threat to the peace process. It’s a terrorist problem. It’s a police matter. So we’ll leave it at that.”

To the peace advocates, he said they are leaving the handling of the crisis to the provincial crisis management group.

“As it is, it is a serious situation but the primary responsibilities should be very clear….You know how it is. This is negotiation. So you could not just butt in and join the work there. That is contrary to negotiations. But largely it is a serious concern but .. it should remain as a police matter at this point. It becomes a security problem because again the terrorists, initially, are reported to be involved. When members of terror groups like the Abu Sayyaf are involved, then we take cognizance at the security level from a security point of view,” Esperon said.

“Sa akin naman sa Peace Process, it affects me because Prof. Octavio is involved and he’s one of our supporters in the peace process so it is in that matter that the peace process is affected but insofar as the involvement of the MNLF is concerned – this is the group we are monitoring because we have a peace agreement with them – we have not come to that point. So it is a national security concern because it involves a group that could sow terror and fear amongst us and it is a police problem. It should be addressed by police authorities. All these are being done at the level of (Sulu) Governor (Sakur) Tan,” he added.

The alleged kidnappers were initially reported to be led b y Albader Parad of the Abu Sayyaf and Gafur Jumdail of the Moro National Liberation Front faction which the military refers to as “Misuari Breakaway Group.”

Nur Misuari signed the “Final Peace Agreement” with the Philippine government on September 2, 1996, Misuari, jailed from November 2001 to January 2002 in Malaysia for alleged illegal entry and in Laguna and later Quezon City for alleged rebellion since January 2002, has been out on bail since April 25,

Esperon said he has contacts in Sulu and can directly to the military commanders there so “I know more or less what’s going on there.”

But Esperon was obviously still trying to find ways on how to handle the kidnapping issue in relation to his new job as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“Ang peace process nga ba ay damay dito?” (Is the peace process adversely affected by this issue), he asked. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

‘Don’t give up on Ces’

June 15, 2008

By Jaime Laude
Sunday, June 15, 2008

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The families of abducted ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Ces Drilon and cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion appealed to authorities yesterday to sustain their rescue efforts a week after they were kidnapped in Sulu.

“Please don’t give up. We are counting on you and are praying for your efforts,” Drilon’s family said in a statement.

“We are grateful beyond words to all the people who are helping us get Ces and Jimmy back. We would like to thank the government, the authorities and the local government of Sulu for their persistent efforts to secure their release,” they said.

The appeal was made yesterday as authorities said negotiations are still ongoing for the release of Drilon, Encarnacion, and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo, who were kidnapped in Sulu last week by Abu Sayyaf extremists.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police director Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao belied reports that the kidnappers had cut off communication with the negotiators.

“There’s an ongoing negotiation. The negotiators will intensify their efforts for the release. There is no truth to reports that the abductors dropped communication with the negotiators. The communication lines are still open for negotiations,” Goltiao said.

There were reports that negotiations to secure the release of the hostages were being overshadowed by vested political interests.

But the family said they are not giving up, even on the people who continue to hold Drilon, Encarnacion and Dinampo captive.

“We have already tried our very best to have them released. Now, we can only hope and pray that the kidnappers have a change of mind and heart and see the good that will come out of releasing Ces and Jimmy,” the family said.

Almost a week after the kidnapping, the Abu Sayyaf released assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama last Thursday.

Though authorities denied paying P2-million ransom to secure Valderama’s freedom, sources in Sulu disclosed the pay-off was even higher at P5 million.

“There was a sudden twist in the already agreed amount, with the kidnappers jacking up the ransom from P2 million to P5 million,” two Sulu-based sources said in two separate telephone interviews.

One source said the kidnappers threatened to behead Valderama if the ransom was not raised to P5 million.

Because of the urgent situation, one of the negotiators personally shelled out P2 million while another unnamed donor gave P1 million in the effort to save Valderama.

“The initial agreement was P2 million in exchange for the release of Encarnacion and Valderama. But along the way, kidnappers jacked up their demand and later released only Valderama,” the source said.

There were reports that the Abu Sayyaf had passed Encarnacion to a kidnapping group to get the money.

But the Sulu police said they don’t have any information to confirm this.

Another source privy to the efforts to rescue Drilon and the two other hostages warned the P5-million ransom paid to the kidnappers would only prolong the situation.

“We have been advising them (negotiators) to negotiate for a one-shot deal and not on installment basis,” he said.

The source claimed Indanan Mayor Isnaji Alvarez, one of the negotiators, unwittingly prolonged the crisis by agreeing to give the ransom money.

“The ransom money only sustained the financial needs of the kidnappers,” the source pointed out.

The source said Alvarez’s son brought Valderama out but could not recall who among the kidnappers took the ransom money from him.

There were reports that Drilon had spoken with her ABS-CBN bosses and told them her captors are demanding P10 million in ransom money.

Mayor Alvarez, for his part, said he was able to convince the kidnappers not to separate the hostages and not to tie them up. He was also able to arrange the delivery of medicine to Dinampo who suffers from arthritis.

According to Alvarez, the kidnappers were different from previous Abu Sayyaf bands that held people in the island.

“These are young people, maybe about 30 years old. This is a new group. This is the second generation of Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

As this developed, police have detained a former rebel commander who served as the group’s “guide.”

Anti-terror Task Force Comet chief Major Gen. Juancho Sabban said former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander Juamil Biyaw surrendered and agreed to cooperate with the rescue operations.

Biyaw served as the guide of the kidnap victims, who were on their way to the lair of the Abu Sayyaf supposedly to pursue a story.

Sabban said Biyaw went into hiding after the kidnapping.

“Natakot siya kaya nagtago (He feared for his life so he hid),” Sabban said.

Biyaw denied allegations that he was a military agent and had lured Drilon and her group into a trap laid out by the Abu Sayyaf.

Biyaw said he served as assistant of Dinampo in his peace advocacy group.

Sabban said Biyaw gave details of the incident to belie allegations of his participation in the kidnapping.

According to Biyaw, he did not go with the group when they walked off because of severe leg pains and cramps.

Biyaw went on to describe the kidnappers as being in their early 30s, bolstering military intelligence reports that recruits are flocking to the Abu Sayyaf.

“So (the Abu Sayyaf) decided to let him (Biyaw) go back,” Sabban said.

Sabban said authorities would get Biyaw’s full statement on the incident before conducting a full investigation.

Sabban said the possibility of filing criminal charges against Biyaw would not affect the ongoing negotiations to secure the release of Drilon and her group. – With Roel Pareño, Pia Lee-Brago.(Philippinestar)

===================================

My Take:

It doesn’t make sense still.  Media reports identifies the abductors as the ASG and yet they cannot put some credibility to this particular claim.  Bakit di maglabas ng statement ang ASG, samantalang it is a part of their tactics.

I am insistent on this particular point because it is very important, as Sun Tzu said, to know ur enemy.  Im wondering still why the military is convinced that this is an ASG handiwork.  Para ba mashrtcut ang kanilang imbestigasyon?  O baka may itinatago silang baho.

I still insist that with the “finesse” acts of this KfR group, they are far too intelligent and knowledgeable to be the ASG.  I hope the media stop throwing us garbages being fed to them by the AFP.  Nagiging bahagi sila ng korapsyon ng media eh.

Editorial Cartoon: Haka-Haka

June 14, 2008

This is a possibility.

‘We asked for Ces, got Angelo instead’

June 14, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY — THE negotiators were asking for broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, and got her cameraman, Angelo Valderama.

Valderama was released Thursday night by a still unknown group of gunmen to members of the Indanan police in a forested area of Sitio Danasih in Barangay Sinumaan, Talipao, Sulu. He was among the four people—an ABS-CBN team of three and a professor of the Mindanao State University—abducted in Maimbung, Sulu, on Sunday.

“Our objective is to secure Ces and the whole team,” Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji , one of the negotiators, yesterday told the Inquirer on the phone. “[The abductors] are the ones making the decisions, not us, and it was they who released Valderama.”

Drilon, her other cameraman, Jimmy Encarnacion, and Prof. Octavio Dinampo, a peace advocate, are still being held by their captors.

In a press conference held in Jolo, Sulu, Isnaji said he and his fellow negotiator, Sulu Vice Gov. Lady Ann Sahidulla, had asked the abductors to release Drilon.

“We asked for a release. We requested the release of Ces or even just one of their victims. I was expecting it to be Ces, but instead they sent Angelo,” he said.

Immediately after his release, Valderama was taken by policemen to the residence of Isnaji, where he stayed overnight. He was flown to Zamboanga City yesterday.

Isnaji refused to give details of Valderama’s release, saying it might jeopardize the negotiations for the freedom of the remaining captives.

Speaking to Ces

He also would not say what group was holding Drilon et al. or what he and Drilon talked about when they spoke several times prior to Valderama’s release.

But Undersecretary Amilasan Amilbahar of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process claimed to have received information that Valderama was accompanied by “more or less 11 armed men mostly in their early 20s” when he was released.

Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said Valderama would undergo a debriefing to be attended by Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno and Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon.

Military agent

Razon said police had yet to get the whole story of the abduction from Valderama.

“That is what we want to find out. But he is resting first,” Razon said.

He also denied the Inquirer report quoting the man hired to drive for the ABS-CBN team in Maimbung that a “military agent” had led Drilon et al. to their abductors.

Board and lodging

Valderama’s freedom was not for free. The negotiators admitted paying a fee for “board and lodging”—a term generally used in lieu of “ransom” in kidnapping cases in the South.

On Thursday night, Amilbahar told the Inquirer the negotiators had paid a P2-million “board and lodging fee” in exchange for Valderama’s release.

According to Amilbahar, the money was part of the election campaign of Isnaji, who is seeking the governorship of Sulu in the ARMM elections scheduled in August.

But the Indanan mayor yesterday maintained that only P100,000, and not P2 million, was given to the kidnappers.

‘Not a centavo’

“Where will I get the money? I don’t even have funds. Vice Governor (Sahidulla) and I had to pool funds to be able to give P100,000, and it was not a ransom payment,” Isnaji said on the phone.

The government maintains a no-ransom policy. And Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who was in Zamboanga City Friday, said the government did not spend “a single centavo” for Valderama’s release.

P5 million?

Even PNP Director General Razon denied knowledge that ransom was paid on Thursday night.

“Angelo Valderama has been recovered and is now in the safety of government forces,” Razon said, adding that the cameraman’s release was the result of negotiations, and not the payment of ransom.

On the other hand, Amilbahar claimed Friday morning to have received information “from the ground” that the “board and lodging fee” was not P2 million but P5 million.

“Nabigla nga ako (I was surprised), but I think they have some explanation for that,” Amilbahar told the Inquirer.

Communications cut

In Jolo, Hainatul Dinampo, Professor Dinampo’s wife, urged the negotiators to also work for his release or at least get his medication to him.

“I’m just looking for someone who can bring him his medicine… My husband has arthritis and his blood pressure sometimes shoots up,” she said in a radio interview.

She also said the Dinampo children had been so badly affected by the kidnapping of their father that they had stopped going to school.

Vice Governor Sahidulla said she and Isnaji had yet to touch base again with the kidnappers since Valderama’s release.

“We haven’t sent any medicines, and we still don’t know when we can do that,” she said.

Agence France-Presse also quoted Mayor Isnaji as saying that the kidnappers had cut off communications: “We have been trying to get in touch with the kidnappers, but all their cell phones have been turned off.”

It was unclear why the kidnappers had severed communications.

Palace relieved

In Malacañang, President Macapagal-Arroyo’s deputy spokespersons expressed relief at Valderama’s release.

“We are relieved to know that one of the victims was released unharmed. We are grateful to all those who have volunteered to help our PNP solve this case and bring back the journalists alive and well,” Anthony Golez said.

Golez called on the public to support the authorities’ efforts by giving information that could help find Drilon et al.

Lorelei Fajardo said the release of Valderama was “a positive step in the right direction.”

“We hope that the captors of Ms Drilon will find it in their hearts to release the remaining members of the ABS-CBN news team. We would like to express our congratulations to the negotiators and encourage them to continue their commendable task of negotiating the release of the [team],” Fajardo said.

“Our prayers are with the family of Ces,” she said, and aired the assurance that the government was exerting all efforts to secure the captives’ safe release.

Professionalism

Anthony Golez also bristled at the claim of the driver, Marama Hashim, who is in the custody of the Sulu police.

Golez said the Armed Forces of the Philippines had “reached a high degree of untainted professionalism and will never resort to such illicit activities for any reason.”

He also said any report linking the abduction of Drilon et al. to the military was “farfetched and must be validated.”

But he expressed support for an internal inquiry, saying “the AFP would never allow its reputation to be tarnished, and this should be investigated thoroughly.”

With reports from Alcuin Papa and Michael Lim Ubac in Manila

==================

My Take:

Parang may napansin akong panghihinayang sa headline ng item na ito.  Nang basahin ko ang buong pyesa, kapansin-pansin na ang naging negosyador ay mga politiko, rason para maging katanggap-tanggap ang kanilang himutok.  oo nga naman. ces is the bigger fish of them all, in terms of publicity and pogi points.  naturally, they would ask for ces talaga dahil, it will be a bigger story nga naman.  pero ano ano ang implikasyon nito sa negosasyon?

1: ang mga negosyador ay may pangunahing adyenda — ang sumikat politically para makakalap ng puntos sa nalalapit na namang halalan.

2: ang mga negosyador ay tunay na trapo.  nag-zero in agad sila sa personalidad (ces) na magbibigay ng ibayong kasikatan sa kanila.  dahil kung hindi, bat sila manghihinayang na instead of ces, angelo was ‘released’?  ang ganitong katangian ay masasalamin din sa mga klase ng proyektong isinasagawa ng mga politiko sa kani-kanilang erya: mga walang kwenta pero nakikita(halimbawa ang mga waiting shed na may pangalan nila, mga landmark na kaprasong semento lang, mga trash can na pininturahan, mga batong binuhusan ng kalburo at iba pa).

sa kabilang banda, ang pagpapalaya kay valderama ay isang mahusay na taktika ng mga kidnapper.  at ito ang nagpapatibay sa hinala ko na hindi abu sayyaf ang may hawak sa grupo nina ces.  si valderama, bukod sa kanyang pagiging ‘proof’ (1. na may naganap ngang kidnapan, 2.na sensiro ang mga kidnapper na pwalan ang iba pa basta ba mababayaran sila, 3) na buhay si ces — ang pinakasikat nilang hostage)  ipinapakita rin ang galing ng kanilang pagpili at husay sa antisipasyon sa mga nangyayari (na tiyak na si ces ang unang hihilingin ng mga politiko, at dahil si ces ang sikat, siya ang dapat na panatilihin nilang hawak dahil si ces ang magiging pananggalang nila laban sa anumang atakeng gagawin ng militar.

dahil dito, umusbong din ang hinala k na malamang ay pinagplanuhan ang pagdukot na ito kina ces, at hindi ito isang ispontanyong pangingidnap lamang na karaniwan nang makikita sa mga handiwrk ng abu sayaff.

hanggang ngayon, midya lang ang nagsasabing asg ang may hawak kina ces.  pero wala pa tayong naririnig mula sa asg.  at pati si valderama ay di pa rin nagssasalita, ganun din ang abs-cbn.  nakapagtataka lang kasi, samantalang ipinagmamalaki pa ng asg kung sila ang may hawak ng ganyang klase ng tao, pero ngayon ang abs-cbn pa mismo ang nanawagan ng pananahimik samantalang wala namang implikasyon sa seguridad nina ces kung malalaman ng buong bayan na asg nga ba ang humahawak sa kanila ngayon.

o baka totoo ngang hindi asg?

ah. talagang nakakatakot yan. talagang kung ako ang abs, mananawagan muna ako ng pananahimik o pag-iingat sa pagbabalita hinggil sa kalagayan nina ces.


hmm… malalim ito. and im now atsrting t believe na may kinalaman ang ilang kagawad ng militar dito.  sana mali ako.

3:

The Ces Drilon Abduction: Paningin ng Malikot na Isipan

June 13, 2008

hanggang sa araw na ito ay hindi pa rin makumpirma kung abu sayaff nga ba ang may hawak kina ces drilon.

ano ngayon ang implikasyon nito?

1. Malaki ang posibilidad na hindi Abu Sayaff ang bumihag sa grupo ni Ces. At pinatibay ang ganitong teorya nang magsalita ang mamang naging drayber nina Ces na isang ahente ng militar ang naghatid kina Ces sa bingit ng alanganin.  At nagawa pang bumalik ng naturang ahente para paalisin ang drayber at ang sasakyan, ibig sabihin, walang threat na addressed sa naturang ahente.  Nagpatibay rin sa teoryang ito ang pag-amin ng ABS-CBN na araw-araw nilang nakakausap si Ces.  Hindi ito gawain ng karaniwang Kidnap for Ransom group at ng ASG.

2, Samantala, ang “pagpapalaya” kay Valderama ay nagpakita ng katangian ng mga taong may hawak sa grupo ni Ces.  Masasabing its all in the book. O by the book ang kasong ito.  Sa mga kaso kasi ng KnR, karaniwan nang nagpapalaya ng isang “hostage” ang mga kidnapper/hostage=taker” para ipakita sa kanilang kanegosasyon na sincere silang hindi sasaktan ang mga hawak nila kung sincerely ay magbabayad din ng karampatang halaga ang kabilang panig.  Sa ganitong kalagayan, masasabi kong may alam sa kalakarang militar ang mga may hawak kay Ces.  At nakapagtataka ang otomatikong pagdedeny ng yunit ng mga militar sa Mindanaw sa posibilidad ng ganitong anggulo.  Hindi ba nila matanggap na naisahan sila ng kanilang kapwa sundalo? O alam nila na sundalo ang may hawak pero nais nilang ituro sa ASG o iba pa ang sala para ma-justify ang mas pagpapaigting ng operasyong militar sa lugar thereby resulting to more funds, more funds, more funds, more funds.

SAYS POLICE CHIEF Driver claims military agent, not Abus seized Drilon team

June 13, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The hired driver of television reporter Ces Drilon and her crew has claimed to police that a known “military agent” and not members of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group abducted the ABS-CBN team, the Sulu police chief said Thursday.

Senior Superintendent Julasirim Kasim, Sulu police director, said driver Maramma Hasim, the man hired by Drilon and her team to chauffer for them in Maimbung on the day of their disappearance, claimed that one Juamil “Maming” Biyaw was the “missing link” to knowing who was behind the abduction.

Biyaw, a resident of the village of Sandah in Patikul town, is known in Sulu as a military agent, Kasim said.

Kasim said Hashim, who is now in police custody, claimed Biyaw was with the group Sunday when Drilon, cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, and their guide, Mindanao State University Professor Octavio Dinampong went to Maimbung.

They went missing after an armed group reportedly intercepted them along Kulasi, town of Maimbung while on their way to meet Abu Sayyaf leaders “to cover a special event.”

Quoting Hashim, Kasim said Biyaw ordered the driver to stop somewhere in the village of Labbah at around noon Sunday.

“The passengers, including Madame Ces, thought there was problem with the car,” Kasim quoted Hashim’s account.

“All the passengers casually went down from the vehicle and this Biyaw guy invited the four to join him in a walk towards Mount Mabusing (interior of Labbah). So there was no scuffle. Madame Ces and the rest walked casually,” Kasim added.

Hashim was reportedly surprised when the five left him on the highway.

“But he waited until 4 p.m. and this Biyaw returned alone instructing the driver to leave the place. The driver, apparently disturbed, followed the orders,” Kasim added.

“Because of fear, the driver didn’t even show up readily and he is now in our custody. Right now, we are looking for this Biyaw and we are checking further his background and how close he is with the military as he being reported as an agent,” Kasim said.

But Kasim admitted he was “a bit confused” by the different information he has been receiving the past days.

“He (Hashim) gave information that runs counter to what our Maimbung police earlier supplied,” he said.

“It was my Maimbung police chief (Inspector Abdulsamad Mañalas) who said that, and I admit it might have been a presumption since the incident took place where Gafur Jumdail’s group operates,” he said.

But Maimbung Mayor Najib Maldisa said Mañalas had denied giving the identities of the kidnappers prior to confirmation from the ABS-CBN executives.

“It’s a good thing we did some of our homework. That is why I was a bit hesitant in blaming anyone especially if I didn’t see them with my own eyes or receive any information direct from these bandits,” the mayor said.

But as far as Kasim was concerned, the police are now looking at other groups.

“But I will not say anything at this moment. I just let Hashim’s affidavit speak for what is the latest development,” he said.

Maldisa, on the other hand, said Biyaw “is closely associated with some Marines in the brigade.”

Abdulwahid Basaluddin, chair of the Anak Sug Professionals in Sulu, said Biyaw, aside from being a former MNLF member, was a “conflict mediator like Professor Octavio (Dinampo), although Biyaw has more access to military than Dinampo,” the Mindanao State University professor who was acting as Drilon’s guide.

Maldisa admitted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, that he was also confused by the turn of events.

“Yesterday, the Abu Sayyaf, and now they’re saying it’s not the Abu Sayyaf,” Maldisa said.

The mayor said the police should immediately get Biyaw “because he is the key to knowing who is behind the abduction.”

“If they’re not being held by the Abu Sayyaf, and the MNLF doesn’t know anything about their disappearance, then another group could have seized them,” he said.

Maldisa said he had been doing his own investigation, asking MNLF commanders, “but all them say they know nothing. Some, especially those in the hinterlands, were even surprised to know that there was a kidnapping.”

Even the Abu Sayyaf men earlier tagged as being behind the kidnapping were surprised.

A former MNLF sub-commander now employed with a town mayor said both Abu Sayyaf leaders Albader Parad and Gafur Jumdail denied having a hand in the kidnapping.

He said he had dispatched several people, upon instructions of the mayor, to enter Parad’s camp in Indanan town and Jumdail’s lair in Maimbung, and “these bandits were all shocked about the report.”

“When my people went inside, especially in the camp of Parad, and they chanced upon them sipping coffee, they (Parad and his group) were all shocked to learn that Drilon was kidnapped,” he said, adding that his men even checked the inner bunkers to make sure none was being hidden inside.

At Jumdail’s camp, situated between the villages of Kulasi and Labbah, the source said his men also came out empty handed.

But Lieutenant General Nelson Allaga, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, dismissed the information as “pure speculation.”

“We assure everyone that efforts are ongoing for the safe recovery of the ABS-CBN crew, so any speculation will certainly jeopardize these efforts.”

Allaga said he did not want to speak or react to the reported participation of the alleged military agent.

“I don’t want to say anything so as not to confuse everyone,” he said.

Allaga said Task Force Comet chief Brigadier General Juancho Sabban and PNP ARMM Regional Director Joel Goltiao were going to Sulu Thursday afternoon to supervise the military operation to secure the captives.

Asked about what type of military operations he was referring to, Allaga replied: “It will have nothing to do with artillery fire or heavy troops. Negotiation is also a form of military operation.”

(PDI)

CBCP offers prayers for kidnapped ABS-CBN news team

June 13, 2008

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 18:23:00 06/12/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has joined calls for the release of ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon and her two cameramen, who have been taken hostage in Sulu.

“We are praying that the group will soon be released and that their captors will have mercy on them,” Lagdameo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) in an interview Wednesday night.

Drilon, cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion, and Angelo Valderama, and their guide, Professor Octavio Dinampo, were abducted in Sulu on Sunday by what authorities say are members of the Abu Sayyaf.

The Philippine National Police has confirmed that the kidnappers are demanding a ransom but ABS-CBN executives vowed not to pay ransom so as not to encourage similar attacks on journalists.

ABS-CBN and local authorities have tapped the help of Tausug leaders negotiate the safe release of the victims.(PDI)

ABS-CBN talking to Drilon ‘everyday’–Lopez

June 13, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — The chairman and chief executive officer of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. said the network is “talking…everyday” to television reporter Ces Drilon, who was kidnapped with her crew and a guide in Sulu on Sunday.

“We’re talking to her everyday. She’s okay,” said Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III on the sidelines of a stockholders’ meeting of Benpres Holdings Corp., the publicly-listed investment arm of the Lopez family.

Lopez reiterated that they would not entertain any ransom demand for the kidnapped journalists.

“Of course not [will not pay ransom]. It would make life difficult for all of you [journalists]. We need prayers,” Lopez said.(PDI)

ABS-CBN crew member freed

June 13, 2008

AFP

JOLO, Philippines—(UPDATE 4) One of three TV journalists abducted by suspected Moro extremists was freed in the southern Philippines late Thursday.

ABS-CBN cameraman Angelo Valderama was released around 7:30 p.m. to Sulu Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidula, said Undersecretary Amilasan Amilbajar of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Mindanao.

But prominent anchorwoman Ces Drilon and cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion were still in captivity, along with a Mindanao State University professor who had acted as their local guide.

The four were abducted on Sunday as they were heading to interview some Abu Sayyaf leaders.

“But this is a positive development…we’re happy even if one person only (had been released),” Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police commander of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), told INQUIRER.net.

From Sahidula, Valderama was brought to the home of Indanan town mayor Isnaji Alvarez, the chief negotiator, in Sulu around 9:30 p.m., Goltiao said.

Amilbajar said a P2-million “board and lodging fee” was paid in exchange for his freedom.

“These funds came from the two negotiators. These funds are their campaign funds,” Amilbajar said.

Alvarez, who is running for governor of the ARMM in the regional elections in August, said in a telephone interview that the kidnappers told him Valderama was being set free as a “gift.”

The freed hostage told Alvarez that his two colleagues and Professor Octavio Dinampo remained with the kidnappers and were unharmed.

The kidnappers, described as members of the Abu Sayyaf group that has been blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines, were understood to have demanded up to P20 million ($454,000) in ransom.

Amilbajar told reporters that Valderama would be taken to a military camp here for a debriefing.

“He looked okay, but he would be given a [medical] check-up,” the official said.

Goltiao said a “middleman” fetched Valderama at an undisclosed location before he was brought to Alvarez’s residence.

Valderama is now under the protective custody of the Philippine National Police and will be presented to Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Friday, said Goltiao.

’Military agent’

The police chief of Sulu said earlier Thursday that a known “military agent” led Drilon, her two cameramen and Dinampo to their kidnappers on Sunday.

Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim said Marama Hashim, the man hired by Drilon et al. to drive for them in Maimbung, Sulu, on the day of their disappearance, claimed that a certain Juamil Biyaw was the “missing link” to knowing who was behind the kidnapping.

Biyaw, a resident of Barangay Sandah in Patikul town, is known in Sulu as a military agent, Kasim said.

Kasim’s revelation was a surprise twist to the abduction case. Government, military and police officials had been saying all along that the kidnappers of Drilon et al. were Abu Sayyaf bandits.

But in a separate interview on the phone with the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) in Manila, Goltiao was incredulous.

“What? A military asset?” Goltiao said, adding that he and his men had spoken with Hashim. “Wala yun (There is no such thing). He didn’t mention anything like that.”

Goltiao said that from what the police had gathered from Hashim, the latter was hired to drive for Drilon et al. on Sunday and that when they reached the Ajid River, the group got off the vehicle and proceeded on foot.

Hashim waited for Drilon et al. from noon to 4 p.m. but they did not return, Goltiao said.

Hashim was earlier reported to have been kidnapped along with the four hostages. Hashim was released and taken into police custody on Wednesday night.

Quoting Hashim, Kasim said Biyaw was with Drilon and the others when they went to Maimbung on Sunday in the course of their Sulu coverage.

Biyaw ordered Hashim to stop somewhere in Barangay Labbah at around noon, Kasim said.

“The passengers, including Madame Ces, thought nasira ang sasakyan (the pickup had broken down),” Kasim said, quoting from Hashim’s account.

“All the passengers casually alighted and this Biyaw guy invited the four to join him in a walk toward Mount Mabusing (the forested interior of Labbah). So there was no scuffle. Madame Ces and the rest walked casually,” Kasim said.

Surprised, frightened

Hashim was reportedly surprised when the five left him on the highway.

“But he waited until 4 p.m., and this Biyaw returned alone and instructed the driver to leave the place. The driver, apparently disturbed, followed the instruction,” Kasim said.

He said Hashim was apparently frightened and made himself scarce: “Sa takot ng driver, hindi nga ito agad nagpakita.”

“Pero nakuha rin natin siya (But we got him), and he is now in our custody. Right now, we are looking for this Biyaw and we are checking further his background and how close he is with the military as he is being reported as an agent,” Kasim said.

Maimbung Mayor Najib Maldisa said Biyaw “is closely associated with some Marines in the brigade.”

On the other hand, Abdulwahid Basaluddin, chair of the Anak Sug Professionals in Sulu, said Biyaw was a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front and a “conflict mediator like [Dinampo], although Biyaw has more access to the military than Dinampo.”

Maldisa told the Inquirer that he, too, was confused by the turn of events: “Ako naguguluhan na sa takbo ng sitwasyon.”

“Thursday, it was the Abu Sayyaf. Now, it’s not. But it’s scary, with a military agent,” he said.

Maldisa said the police should immediately take custody of Biyaw “because he is the key to knowing who is behind the abduction.”

‘Mere speculation’

Contacted for comment, Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, the military spokesperson, described the information on the purported military agent as a “mere speculation and reckless allegation” that tended to muddle an “already complicated situation.”

“The military is supporting the current efforts being carried out to locate and secure Ms Ces Drilon and her crew,” Torres said in a text message.

Like Torres, Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, dismissed the information as “pure speculation.”

“We assure everyone that efforts are ongoing for the safe recovery of the ABS-CBN crew, and any speculation will certainly jeopardize these efforts,” Allaga said.

He said he would not comment further “so as not to confuse everyone.”

But Allaga disclosed that Goltiao and Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, chief of Task Force Comet, were to travel to Sulu Thursday afternoon to supervise a military operation to secure the captives.

Asked to explain the military operation, Allaga quickly said: “It will have nothing to do with artillery fire or heavy troops. Negotiation is also a form of military operation.”

Other groups’ involvement

Kasim said he himself was “a bit confused” by the varying information that police had been receiving lately.

“[Hashim] gave information that runs counter to what our Maimbung police earlier supplied,” he said.

But he added that police were now looking into the involvement of groups other than the Abu Sayyaf in the kidnapping.

“I will not say anything at this moment. I will just let Hashim’s affidavit speak for what is the latest development,” Kasim said.

Maldisa said that if Drilon et al. “are not being held by the Abu Sayyaf, and all the MNLF members here have no idea about their disappearance, then another group pulled off the kidnapping.”

The mayor said he had been doing his own investigation among the MNLF commanders. “But all of them say they know nothing. Some, especially those in the hinterlands, were even surprised to know there was a kidnapping,” he said.

‘Presumption’

Kasim explained how the Abu Sayyaf came into the picture: “It was my Maimbung police chief (Insp. Abdulsamad Mañalas) who said that, and I admit, it might have been a presumption because the incident took place where Gafur Jumdail’s group operates.”

But Mayor Maldisa said Mañalas had denied naming the purported kidnappers prior to confirmation by ABS-CBN executives.

“Buti na lang (It’s good) we did some of our homework. That’s why I was a bit hesitant to blame anyone, especially if I didn’t see them with my own eyes or received any information direct from these bandits,” he said.

Kasim also said the earlier report that the driver and the dispatcher of the pickup were also taken by the kidnappers and then released was inaccurate.

He said Biyaw had been wrongly reported by police as a dispatcher.

‘Shocked’

But Gafur Jumdail and Albader Parad, the Abu Sayyaf members tagged as the kidnappers, were “shocked” at reports of their supposed involvement, according to a former MNLF sub-commander now in the employ of a town mayor.

The source, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said that on the mayor’s instructions, he had dispatched emissaries to the camps of Parad and Jumdail in Indanan and Maimbung, respectively.

“When my people entered Parad’s camp, they found Parad and his group having coffee. Parad and his group were all shocked to learn that Drilon had been kidnapped,” the source said.

He said his men had even checked the inner bunkers to make sure that no one was being hidden inside.

At Jumdail’s camp situated between the barangays of Kulasi and Labbah, the emissaries also found nothing.

“And Jumdail and his group even laughed. They said the media had given them free exposure, and that they were now very popular in Sulu, and even the whole world. They also didn’t know that Ces Drilon had been kidnapped,” the source said.

‘Little misunderstanding’

Alvarez had earlier told reporters he had spoken with Drilon by telephone on Wednesday night.

“I informed her that there was a little misunderstanding on the expenses to be paid for their stay,” he said in an apparent reference to difficulties in the negotiations.

“Accommodation,” “board and lodging” or “expenses”—rather than “ransom”—are terms often used by kidnappers because these are more acceptable to negotiators.

Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, chair and chief executive of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., Thursday reiterated that the network would not pay ransom for Drilon and her crew.

“Of course not. It would make life difficult for all of you [reporters]. We need prayers,” Lopez said on the sidelines of a stockholders meeting of Benpres Holdings Corp., the publicly listed investment arm of the Lopez family.

“We’re talking to her (Drilon) every day. She’s OK,” Lopez said.

ABS-CBN said Wednesday in a statement that it would abide by its policy of not paying ransoms, so as not to “embolden kidnap-for-ransom groups to abduct other journalists, putting more lives at risk.”

Talks in ‘critical stage’

Quoting a source, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that negotiations for the release of Drilon et al. had reached a “critical stage.”

“We know the hostages are all OK,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Talks for their safe release have reached a critical stage, with the ransom demand going up from P10 million to P20 million,” the source said.

Unconfirmed reports said the local guide may have suffered a “mild” stroke.

Police and military sources would not comment on a media report that the group was being held by a Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah bombmaker wanted by the United States.

The Philippine Star newspaper named the Malaysian as Zulkifli bin Hir, who it said was holed up with local Abu Sayyaf militants Umbra Jumdail and Albader Parad.

The paper, quoting an unnamed military source, said the US-trained engineer was “the principal suspect in many bombing attacks in the Philippines, where he has been in hiding since August 2003 and training Islamic militants in handling explosive devices.”

Washington has offered a $5-million reward for the Malaysian’s capture.

Meanwhile, on the nearby island of Basilan, Muslim extremists kidnapped two Philippine Marines on Thursday and were demanding the release of detained Abu Sayyaf militant Sali Dungkal Alih in exchange, the military said.

Security forces arrested Alih in Basilan on May 6.

“They are offering us a concession — give us the liberty of Alih and then we will release the Marines,” said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgardo Arevalo.

Arevalo said the government was sticking to its position of not giving in to such demands. With reports from Alcuin Papa and Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson in Manila, Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao Bureau; Thea Alberto, INQUIRER.net(PDI)

Abu Sayyaf demands P50M

June 13, 2008

Families of victims talking directly with kidnappers

By Al Jacinto, Correspondent

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf militants are reportedly demanding as much as P50 million for the safe release of a kidnapped television news crew on the southern island of Sulu.

The militants are holding award-winning ABS-CBN reporter Ces Oreña-Drilon and her two cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, as well as university professor Octavio Dinampo.

Television network ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. said it would not pay ransom to kidnappers, who originally demanded P10 million.

Radio network dzRH in Manila on Thursday said the militants were demanding P50 million from the victims’ families negotiating directly with the Abu Sayyaf.

It said the hostages should have been freed on Wednesday after negotiators agreed to pay the ransom, but the Abu Sayyaf did not release Drilon’s group after ABS-CBN issued a statement saying it will not pay ransom to the terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah.

The radio network, owned by the Manila Broadcasting Corp., which quoted unnamed sources privy to the negotiations, also reported that the kidnappers have already lowered their demand to P25 million. The report could not be independently confirmed.

It said the hostages are being held by Abu Sayyaf leaders Albader Parad and Umbra Jumdail, also known as Dr. Abu, in Sulu province. Police also tagged Gafur Jumdail as among those who kidnapped the four people on June 8.

Drilon and her companions were intercepted near the village of Kulasi in Maimbung town while on their way to interview senior Abu Sayyaf terror leader Radulan Sahiron, who is said to be planning to surrender.

Police said the hostages are still alive, but it was unclear where the Abu Sayyaf is hiding the victims.

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, chief of the regional police force, said there are efforts to negotiate with the kidnappers for the release of the hostages. “There are options here and one is to locate the hostages and negotiate for their safe release,” he said.

Goltiao said the government has a strict no-ransom policy.

He added that the police are closely coordinating with Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan, the head of the local Crisis Management Committee, in resolving the problem peacefully.

Parad and Jumdail are notorious Abu Sayyaf leaders wanted by Washington and Manila for terrorism and kidnappings-for-ransom. The two are also believed coddling Jemaah Islamiah bomber Dulmatin and Umar Patek, tagged as behind the 2002 deadly bombings in Bali which killed more than 200 mostly tourists; and in several attacks in Jakarta.

The Abu Sayyaf group was also tagged as behind the kidnapping early this year of Maria Rosalie Lao, 58, a rice trader in Jolo town. It was also behind the kidnapping in 2001 of 21 people, mostly Asian and European tourists from the Malaysian island-resort of Sipadan.

Last year, the group kidnapped seven people in Sulu and beheaded them after their families failed to pay ransom.

The US has offered up to $5-million bounty and Manila as much as P10 million for the capture—dead or alive—of known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Jumdail.

The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, also offered to help secure the release of Drilon’s team that arrived in Sulu on June 7 from Zamboanga City.

Senior Superintendent Julasirim Kasim said Drilon did not coordinate with them when they arrived in Sulu. She also declined military escorts. He said the victims were believed taken to the hinterlands of Indanan town.

Drilon’s group was lodged at the Sulu State College hostel in Jolo town where they took two rooms and left after ordering food good for 20 people.

Drilon’s group was the second from the television network to be kidnapped in Sulu in the past eight years. Reporter Maan Macapagal and her cameraman Val Cuenca were also kidnapped on the island while working on exclusive news on the Abu Sayyaf.

Independent journalist Arlyn de la Cruz was also kidnapped in Sulu while covering the Abu Sayyaf. Another photojournalist, Gene Boyd Lumawag, was shot in the head by an Abu Sayyaf militant while shooting the sunset in Sulu several years ago.

The Abu Sayyaf had also seized foreign journalists covering the Sipadan kidnapping crisis. Many of those kidnapped were freed after paying huge ransoms.(ManilaTimes)


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