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 10, 2008

TV reporter, crew kidnapped in Sulu, police say

MANILA, Philippines — Well-known television reporter Ces Drilon and two of her crew have been abducted while pursuing a story in the southernmost province Sulu by armed men believed to be members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group, police officials said.

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. said in a statement that Drilon, Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama were “missing in Sulu” and that “all efforts are underway to find them and bring them home.”

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Drilon and the two crew members were intercepted Sunday in Maimbung, a township in the Sulu capital Jolo, by armed men under Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf leader in the area.

Goltiao said the TV news team flew to Mindanao on Saturday on the invitation of Mindanao State University Professor Octavio Dinampo "to cover a special event."

Drilon was to interview the Abu Sayyaf, Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon told INQUIRER.net. Goltiao said that Dinamapo picked up Drilon and her crew from a university hostel and that armed men, identified as being under Parad's command, intercepted them as their vehicle passed through Kulasi village.

"Along the way in Kulasi, Maimbung, Sulu, they were intercepted by an armed group and now they are held in captivity,” said Goltiao. He said the group was brought to Indanan town in Sulu.
He initially identified the abductors as Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf member, and Gapur Jundain, a former member of the erstwhile separatist Moro National Liberation Front who recently joined the extremist group.

"We are closely monitoring with ABS-CBN as well as the military commander and the PNP Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Regional director," said Razon.

"We are assisting them for the safe return of Ces that's why we don't highlight the situation," he added, noting that they had no idea yet of Drilon's whereabouts.

Goltiao said ABS-CBN management would not say why Drilon and her crew went to Sulu. He added, “Outsiders must coordinate with police for security."

Goltiao said officials of the airplane Drilon and her team boarded had offered her security but the broadcast journalist refused, citing the "confidentiality" of the trip.

Goltiao said he was not aware of any ransom demand. He said he was trying to reach ABS-CBN in Manila for more details.

The ABS-CBN statement said, “Until we learn more details, ABS-CBN News requests other media to report on this matter with utmost consideration for the safety of our news team. ABS-CBN News is in touch with the families, and asks that their privacy be respected.”

The Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have 380 fighters, compared with more than 1,000 eight years ago. It has been weakened by US-backed military offensives that have led to the killing and capture of many of its leaders and members.

Police say the militants have continued to plot attacks, including against US soldiers who have been giving counterterrorism training to Filipino troops in Jolo and nearby provinces.

Washington has blacklisted Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist group for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, such as the 2001 abduction from a resort island of 21 people who included three Americans.

Philippine military and police officials say the group has received training and funds from al-Qaeda militants in the past.

Mindanao group condemns kidnapping

The Mindanao Peoples Caucus issued a statement early Tuesday morning condemning “the abduction of our chairman, Professor Octavio Dinampo” along with the television journalist Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN and her crew, and appealed “to their abductors to immediately release them unconditionally.”

The group described Minampo as “a credible and well-respected leader from Sulu and a leading peace advocate in Mindanao” who “has been at the forefront of peace advocacy, good governance and relief and rehabilitation efforts in the conflict affected areas in Mindanao.”

Dinampo is a convener of the group Bantay Ceasefire and “has served as the link of Sulu to the outside world, having developed good relations among civil society and the donor community in rehabilitating the war-ravaged communities in Sulu,” it added.

The statement added: “We appeal to the law enforcers and the military to exhaust all peaceful and traditional methods of negotiation in working out the release of the kidnap victims. We also call on our religious leaders from both the Christian and Muslim faiths to extend whatever possible support. Let this crisis see the strength of our solidarity and dialogue as brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

“We wish to extend our prayers and support to the families and loved ones of the kidnap victims. Rest assured that Mindanao Peoples Caucus will mobilize its Bantay Ceasefire volunteers, peace networks and allies especially among the grassroots to reclaim the freedom of our Chairman Prof. Octa, Ces Drilon and her companions. Finally, we all join our hands and ask God, Allah and Magbabaya to bless and grant our prayers.”(By Thea Alberto, Associated Press, INQ.net)

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