Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Friday, June 13, 2008

ABS-CBN crew member freed by kidnappers

JOLO, Philippines--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 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.
Valderama was then brought to the home of Indanan town mayor Isnaji Alvarez, Amilbajar said.
He 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 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 the professor remained with the kidnappers and were unharmed.

Alvarez would not say if a ransom had been paid to secure the cameraman's release.

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.

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

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

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. (Julie S. Alipala, Inq.net)

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