Kidnapped foreigners now in Sulu

Kidnapped foreigners now in Sulu
Mayor Duterte says two kidnap-for-ransom groups are holding the 3 foreigners and one Filipina hostage

MINDANAO,  Philippines – When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte flew to Zamboanga City last week to check updates on the recent kidnapping of 3 foreigners and a Filipina in his city, he did not just go there on empty speculation.

His visit to Zamboanga was based on intelligence information that showed the victims had left the Davao region and are now in Sulu, stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), according to a local government source.

The same source said the Vessel Tracking System of the Philippine Navy was able to monitor a pump boat (motorized outrigger boat) with the bow name BAMA the morning after the victims were seized at gunpoint by at least 20 heavily armed men at the Holiday Oceanview Resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao, on September 21.

On board the vessel were foreigners, the source said, quoting the skipper of the naval civilian service boat that saw the fleeing vessel.

The pump boat was said to be traveling near the shoreline due to rough seas near Pundaguitan village in the Gov. Generoso town of Davao Oriental.

A naval intelligence report later indicated that it received signals from the mobile phone of one of the victims located in Rio del Pilar in Glan, Sarangani, but they could not source the exact location. “They could have been at sea passing or on land,” the report said.

Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Duterte said two kidnap-for-ransom groups in Sulu were holding the victims hostage.

Appeal to Misuari

“I am appealing to them to release their hostages unharmed. I am trying to get in touch with Professor Nur Misuari,” the mayor told Rappler.

He admitted however that he was having difficulty getting in touch with the founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who has been in hiding since the 2013 siege of Zamboanga City by his followers.

Sulu is the bailiwick of the MNLF, whose several members have also joined the ASG.

ABDUCTED. From left to right: Robert Hall, Kjartan Sekkingstad, and John Ridsdel are among the 4 people abducted from a resort in Samal Island, Davao del Norte, on September 21, 2015. Photos from the PNP

Duterte said the embassies of Canada and Norway were in Davao on Monday, September 29, to determine how they can help in the negotiations to free the hostages.

He said he made it clear to the foreign envoys that paying ransom would not be an option.

One of the kidnap victims is Canadian John Ridsdel, former chief operating officer of TVI Resources Development, who has retired from the company but remained a consultant of the Zamboanga-based mining firm.

He was seized along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, the latter’s Filipina girlfriend Maritess Flor and the resort’s Norwegian manager Kjartan Sekkinstad. –

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