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MANILA, Philippines – The still unidentified group holding captive Australian national Warren Rodwell have reportedly established contact with a local official in Zamboanga Sibugay.
A source from the local government of Ipil, who refused to be identified because he is not allowed to talk to the media, told Rappler that provincial Governor Romeo Jalosjos, who also chairs the provincial crisis team, summoned police officials to his home last Thursday evening, Dec. 9, 2011, to discuss “a very important matter.”
“Apparently, Gov. Jalosjos has received a call from the kidnappers just before the meeting (with the policemen),” the source said, “but there was no mention of any demands yet.”
The source added that the authorities were able to trace the call from Basilan.
“The caller was also sending SMS messages to Zamboanga Sibugay,” the source said, “which bolsters the belief of the authorities that the victim could still be within Ipil.”
Rodwell, 53, was seized at gunpoint from his home last Dec. 5, 2011. Reports say he was shot in the foot after trying to fight off the abductors.
When contacted by Rappler last Sunday, Dec. 12, 2011, Jalosjos, who was in Manila, denied getting a message from Rodwell’s abductors.
“I just attended a meeting at the Australian Embassy where I was briefed on the protocol of handling kidnapping crisis,” Jalosjos said.
When pressed on the information that we received, Jalosjos insisted, “There is no contact or demand yet. (Remember) there is a news blackout so I can’t comment so much yet. We will just issue an official statement soon.”
Police officials in the regional police were also tightlipped. Provincial police chief Sr. Supt. Ruben Cariaga admitted “getting a similar information” that Rodwell’s abductors have established contact, but would not say with whom in particular. – Rappler.com