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.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Kidnappers demand 15M for TV hostages' release, set noon June 17 deadline

ABS-CBN reiterates ‘no ransom’ policyBy Julie Alipala, Ed GeneralAgence France-Presse,

JOLO, Sulu --The kidnappers of broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, her cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, and Mindanao State University professor and peace advocate Octavio Dinampo, set a deadline of noon Tuesday for the payment of a P15-million ransom, the lead negotiator for their release said Monday.

Indanan town Mayor Alvarez Isnaji said Drilon called at around 8:30 a.m. Monday, relaying the abductors' demand.

The families of Drilon and Encarnacion, meanwhile, branded as “erroneous” reports that they were negotiating independently with the abductors.

"Only Mayor Isnaji is directly communicating with the kidnappers,” said the relatives of the kidnapped journalists in a statement.

They said they are counting on Isnaji “for the release of Ces and Jimmy and continue to pray for his efforts."

For its part, ABS-CBN, Drilon’s network dismissed allegations that it has abandoned its reporter and crew but reiterated that it would continue to abide by its “no ransom policy.”

“We are deeply saddened and troubled by accusations that ABS-CBN has abandoned Ces and Jimmy,” the network said in a statement Monday.

“ABS-CBN is doing everything it can to help them and their families through this harrowing ordeal,” it said.

“However, ABS-CBN 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,” it said.
Isnaji said Drilon pleaded for help.

The mayor said he also talked to the kidnappers, asking them not to hurt Drilon and her companions.

He said the kidnappers informed him that they were able to talk to Drilon's family that has agreed to pay the P15-million ransom.

The money, the kidnappers claimed, should be brought to the mayor by a representative of the Drilon family, Isnaji said.

"I cannot do anything. The parents want to pay," he said.

Isnaji said that when he first met Drilon's brother and sister in Zamboanga City on Sunday, they did not talk of paying any ransom demanded by abductors.

"What they said was they don't have the money to pay," Isnaji said. The negotiator said the ultimatum was first aired "casually" on Sunday.

The kidnappers also made the same demand Saturday night, when they complained about seeing Marine troops in the area where they were holding Drilon and her group.

"Pero kaninang madaling araw tumawag ulit sila, pati si Ces. Talagang matindi na ang position ng mga kidnappers at sinabing yung ultimatum ay hanggang bukas 12 noon [Tuesday]," Isnaji said in a phone interview Monday. [But early morning, they called again; Ces also called. The kidnappers were very firm about their ultimatum that the deadline for the ransom will be at 12 noon (Tuesday).]

He said the ransom was reduced from P20 million to P15 million, based on what was allegedly agreed upon by the kidnappers and Drilon's family.

"Sabi nila yon ang napag-agree-han nila sa pamilya ni Ces," he said. [They said this was what they agreed upon with the family of Ces.]

If ransom were not paid by the deadline, Isnaji said, the kidnappers would take a "strong position."

"Sila na ang magdidictate kung kailan sila kikilos, makikipag-usap at hindi na ito magiging madali para sa amin," he said. [They will then dictate the pace of the negotiations and this will not be easy for us.]

He denied threats by the captors who said that they would start executing the remaining hostages if the demands were not met.

"Hindi naman nila sinabing may ie-execute. Ang sabi nila, pag hindi nasunod ang ultimatum, tatagal itong problema dahil sila na ang magdidikta sa kung anong terms at condition nila," Isnaji said. [They did not say they will execute the victims. They said that if the ultimatum was not honored, the problem would drag on because they would start dictating the terms and conditions.]

"I suspect mas pahihirapan na nila tayo sa ngayon," he added. [I suspect they will make it more difficult for us.]

Isnaji said Drilon appealed for her early release, especially after receiving reports that her abduction had affected her mother's health.

"Sabi niya sa akin homesick na siya at gusto na nitong makauwi agad. Nalulungkot siya dahil nabalitaan nitong na stroke ang kanyang nanay dahil sa kalungkutan at ito ang dahilan kung bakit lahat ng communication ay idadaan na sa akin at hindi na direkta sa pamilya niya," Isnaji said. [She told me she was homesick and she wants to go home. She’s sad after learning that her mother had a stroke over her kidnapping and this was the reason why all communication was supposed to be coursed through me and not through her family.

The kidnappers’ ultimatum came as heavily armed troops shelled a forested area on southern Jolo Island where the extremists are holding the trio, injuring a woman living in the area, officials said.

"One woman was rushed here at the hospital because of shrapnel wounds she got from the shelling," a staff member at the Sulu Provincial Hospital said.

Troops moved into the area near the town of Indanan on Sunday to put pressure on Abu Sayyaf extremists who snatched the group on June 8.

Drilon, her cameramen Encarnacion, and Angelo Valderama; and university professor Octavio Dinampo had been en route to a secret meeting with a senior Abu Sayyaf leader when they were seized.

The abductors freed Valderama on June 12 after a ransom of P100,000 was paid.

Many of the other leaders have been killed or arrested in military operations assisted by US Special Forces military advisers who are temporarily based in Jolo and nearby islands.

Isnaji said he was worried the military's shelling could endanger the lives of the hostages. But commander of the Philippine Marines, Major-General Nelson Allaga, said he was certain the hostages were not in the area at the time.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered police and troops get back all of the hostages alive, and military reinforcements arrived here on Sunday.

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