ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Even before the video of kidnapped Australian national Warren Rodwell was released to the media, government authorities here gave reporters a photo of the victim and claimed that the kidnappers were “initially demanding P1 M ransom."
The photo, with a date stamp of “12/12/2011” (Dec. 12, 2011), was released to the local media on Dec. 22, 2011 by a Philippine National Police (PNP) unit which requested not to be named since they are not authorized to talk to reporters. It showed an unshaved, haggard Rodwell wearing a black shirt and hooded jacket, taken with a background of a tarpaulin covering what could be forest area.
The photo, which was likely taken along with the video now circulating in the media, was reportedly sent to Rodwell's Filipina wife, Miraflor, via a local cargo forwarder.
The package sent to Mrs Rodwell had a sender's address of “Tagum City” and contained a “memory card” where the victim's “proof of life” was stored, according to PNP's Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) chief Director Felicisimo Khu.
“We've been waiting for this, a proof that he is indeed alive,” another police official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Speculations came out weeks after Rodwell was abducted on Dec. 5, 2011 that the foreigner died while in captivity. Authorities were quick to deny this report hinting that the armed suspects have “established contact” with a local official to initiate formal negotiations.
Based on reports from his personnel in Zamboanga Sibugay, the kidnappers were “initially demanding P1-M ransom,” Khu told local reporters on Dec. 30, 2011.
“We are also getting reports that it is the group of Puruji Indama of the Abu Sayyaf Group that's holding Rodwell captive, Khu added, “ the same group that kidnapped the US citizens Gerfa and Kevin Lunsmann in July this year.”
But intelligence sources told Rappler he may have been kidnapped by rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is in the middle of peace negotiations with the Philippine government. The MILF says it's offered to help the government in the search, simultaneously warning the military to stay away from its camps. Peace talks are scheduled on January 9-11 in Kuala Lumpur.- Rappler.com