ABS-CBN airs kidnap video shot secretly

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.

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