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Monday, June 16, 2008

Hands of two hostages tied as Abus issue ultimatum - Isnaji

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06/16/2008 | 11:16 PM

SULU, Philippines – Abu Sayyaf bandits have reportedly tied the hands of two of their captives as the deadline they gave for the hostages’ families to pay the ransom approaches.

The bandits gave the families of ABS-CBN broadcaster Victoria "Ces" OreƱa-Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, and Mindanao-based professor Octavio Dinampo until noon Tuesday to pay the P15-million ransom in exchange for the hostages’ freedom.

The ransom demand and ultimatum was disclosed Monday by Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, who was selected by the kidnappers to negotiate for the freedom of the victims.

"Nagbigay na ngayon ng warning sa akin. Pag di pa dumating ang ano hanggang 12 noon bukas, Tuesday, sabi nila wala na. Meaning, kahit hindi na daw ako makipag-usap sa kanila. Wala nang negosasyon (They already gave a warning that if they do not get the ransom payment by 12 noon Tuesday, they will stop negotiations for the captives release)," Isnaji said.

Isnaji said it was Drilon who told him Monday morning in a phone conversation that the bandits have already tied the hands of Encarnacion and Dinampo.

He said the kidnappers were angered by the slow progress of the talks with Drilon's family.

"She (Drilon) was crying and appealed again to fast track the negotiations. She said the kidnappers have tied the hands of Encarnacion and Dinampo," Isnaji said.

Isnaji’s son, Jun, said the Abu Sayyaf bandits threatened to hurt the hostages if their demands are not met by Tuesday noon.

“They threatened to harm the hostages if their demand is not met by noon on Tuesday. I don't know what they will do with the hostages. Let us just pray that nothing bad will happen to them," he said.

ABS-CBN, however, is not keen on paying ransom to facilitate the captives’ release even as it denied that it has abandoned its employees.

In a statement, ABS-CBN said it is "doing everything it can" to assist in the release of Drilon and Encarnacion.

"We are deeply saddened and troubled by accusations that ABS-CBN has abandoned Ces and Jimmy. ABS-CBN is doing everything it can to help them and their families through this harrowing ordeal," ABS-CBN's statement stated.

"However, ABS-CBN will abide by its policy not to pay ransom because this would embolden kidnap-for-ransom groups to abduct other journalists, putting more lives at risk," it added.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan, head of the local crisis management committee, also appealed to negotiators not to pay ransom.

"Paying ransom is not the solution to resolve this hostage crisis, but it will create us more trouble because the Abu Sayyaf can use the money to buy weapons and finance terrorism," he said.

Drilon and her team, along with Dinampo, were abducted last June 8 in Maimbung while on a coverage. They were reportedly on their way to interview Radulan Sahiron, a senior Abu Sayyaf leader who has sent surrender feelers to authorities.

The team’s driver, Angelo Valderama, was freed June 12 after negotiators allegedly paid P2 million in ransom.

As this developed, authorities claimed to have uncovered the identities of at least two of the Abu Sayyaf bandits involved in the abduction of Drilon and company.

In a press briefing at Camp Crame Monday, Chief Supt. Hadji Sukarno Ikbala Sr, director of the Police Community Relations Group (PCRG), identified the two suspects as Sulayman Patta alias Amah Ma'as and Abu Harris; and a certain Walid alias Tuan Wals.

Ikbala also said that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has approved a P1 million reward for any information leading to the capture of two suspected Abu Sayyaf militants. - GMANews.TVthier