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.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

'Mayor asks for P15M more'

Rest of ransom given to abductors thru Isnaji - PNP

Even before Mayor Alvarez Isnaji announced that the kidnappers of ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon had demanded for P15 million more in ransom, he had met with her siblings and told them the amount must be paid to secure her release, according to documents obtained from the Philippine National Police.
This disclosure is part of the "incriminating evidence" compiled by the PNP to pin down the mayor of Indanan, Sulu, who had served as a negotiator for the kidnappers, an investigator in the case told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday.
In an affidavit, Senior Supt. Reginald Villasanta, PNP Intelligence Group deputy director for operations, said he was present at a June 15 meeting at the Palmeras Hotel in Zamboanga City that started at around 1:30 p.m.
He named the others at the meeting as Isnaji, Drilon's siblings Frank and Gretz Oreña, and Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Said Villasanta: "During the meeting, Mayor Isnaji declared that he did not know any of the kidnappers and that he was just helping the family for the release of Ces Drilon and the others. He also reiterated that the family of Ces Drilon must pay the P15 million remaining ransom money to complete the P20 million demand to ensure the safety of Ces Drilon and her companions."
The meeting was held a day before Isnaji told reporters that the kidnappers had set a June 17 noon deadline for the payment of P15 million.
Villasanta also said that on June 17, he was informed by Supt. Winnie Quidato, the acting chief of the PNP Intelligence Group, that the rest of the ransom was given to the kidnappers through Isnaji.
"It was a male lawyer that brought the ransom money to Mayor Isnaji. As a result, Ces Drilon and companions were released," he said.
Drilon, her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, and Prof. Octavio Dinampo were abducted on June 8 in Sulu by armed men believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.
Valderama was freed on June 12, and Drilon and the others on June 17.

Secret meeting

The PNP has filed kidnapping for ransom charges against Isnaji and his son Haider at the Department of Justice.
An investigator, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said Villasanta's affidavit, along with Quidato's own sworn statement, was among an array of testimonies that the PNP would use against Isnaji.
"In that meeting, the mayor was already talking of P15 million in additional ransom before he made it known to the media that there was that demand. That is really incriminating and is just [part] of the strong evidence that we have," the investigator said.
He also said the June 15 meeting was held without the knowledge of the other negotiators, including Sulu Vice Gov. Lady Anne Sahidulla.
"The Isnajis tried to hide that meeting, as well as other forms of communication with Drilon's family, from the other members of the negotiating team. It was the vice governor who was supposed to be negotiating for the family, not Isnaji," the investigator said.
Undercover partners
Villasanta said in his affidavit that Chief Supt. Rolando Añonuevo, the chief of the PNP Intelligence Group, had instructed him to personally supervise other police personnel "in the monitoring" of the kidnapping.
"He [Villasanta] partnered with Quidato in going undercover and introducing themselves as civilians from the Department of Interior and Local Government," the investigator said.

This was how Villasanta recounted the turn of events:

On June 11, he traveled to Zamboanga City and was briefed by Quidato.
The next day, they flew to Jolo and proceeded to Sahidulla's residence. Later that day, they went to the Jolo airport to meet Frank Oreña, who arrived with P5 million in ransom. They then went to Isnaji's residence in Indanan.
Villasanta positioned himself outside the Isnaji house while Quidato went inside. Later, Villasanta saw Sahidulla leave. At around 5:30 p.m., the Isnajis left with Haider carrying a bag.
Quidato told Villasanta that the bag contained the P5 million.
At around 7:30 p.m., Valderama was released to the Isnajis.
Reached for comment Saturday night, the Isnajis' lawyer, Ernesto Francisco, said: "My clients are only after saving the lives of the hostages.
"Villasanta's statement is not proof my clients would gain from the ransom. The kidnappers and the family agreed on the P20-million ransom."
Francisco said this purported agreement was mentioned by the Isnajis when he interviewed them before Friday's inquest proceedings.
On Friday, Edgardo Espiritu, the Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom and an uncle of Drilon's, confirmed on radio that the family had put up the P5-million ransom.
Also on Friday, the PNP announced that Mayor Isnaji had pocketed P3 million of the amount. It presented pictures showing the money being handled by Haider Isnaji and Sahidulla in the presence of the mayor and Quidato.

'Something odd'

But Temojen Tulawie, provincial chair of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society in Sulu, said there was "something odd" in the picture that the PNP had distributed to the media
"That photo used as evidence speaks loudly the truth that it was taken before the release of Valderama, and during that period, it was Vice Governor Sahidulla who was the lead negotiator, not Mayor Isnaji," Tulawie told the Inquirer in Zamboanga City.
Tulawie--who claimed to have followed the kidnapping case and negotiations right in Isnaji's house--said that after Valderama's release, he noticed that Isnaji was already calling the shots in the negotiations.
"So I asked Jun (Haider) what went wrong, how come Sahidulla was no longer directly handling the negotiations. And Jun told me that the kidnappers got mad at her," Tulawie said.
Tulawie said that when the P5 million arrived in Sulu, Haider Isnaji said the money was intended for Drilon because her family had been able to raise the funds.
Still quoting Haider Isnaji, Tulawie said the kidnappers had demanded P20 million and that the P5 million was just the "board and lodging fee" for Drilon.
"I was told the money was a way to extend the [kidnappers' deadline], and Mayor Isnaji demanded that Ces be released. And it turned out that it was Valderama who was released, and not Ces as expected," Tulawie said.
Asked why Valderama was released ahead of Drilon, Tulawie quoted Haider Isnaji as saying that the kidnappers were angered because they expected P5 million but the money that reached them was only P2 million.

Contact with Drilon family

"What Jun said was that the kidnappers got mad at the vice governor, kaya inayawan na siya (which was why they wanted her out of the negotiations)," Tulawie said.
Repeated calls by Inquirer Mindanao to Sahidulla's phone went unanswered.
Professor Dinampo also said that based on what he had overheard from the kidnappers, it was Drilon's family who requested that Sahidulla negotiate for the captives' release.
"It was the family of Ces who had contact with the vice governor," he said, adding that he had no idea why the kidnappers dropped Sahidulla as negotiator.
Tulawie said Haider Isnaji had informed him that it had "something to do with the ransom."
Sulu Rep. Yusop Jikiri said the national government should look deeper into the matter.
"There should be a thorough and fair investigation because this case will affect many people and groups if not handled properly," Jikiri said, adding that he could not believe Mayor Isnaji would be involved in the kidnapping. (With reports from Julie S. Alipala and Charlie C. Señase, INQ.net)

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