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.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Drilon kidnappers extend deadline ‘indefinitely’

Kidnappers of a television news team extended “indefinitely” the deadline for the release of their hostages, according to the son of one of the negotiators.

In a press conference in Sulu aired live on radio Tuesday, minutes before the noon deadline for payment of a P15 million ransom expired, Jun Isnaji, son of Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, said the abductors assured his father that they would not harm ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon, her cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, and Octavio Dinampo, Mindanao State University professor.
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, admitted Isnaji 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.
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.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police has intensified their manhunt against the suspects, two of whom were identified as Sulayman Patta and Walid, each carrying a P500,000 bounty.
Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome, PNP spokesman, maintained the government’s “no-ransom” policy.

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.

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