PNP: No ransom to be paid for Samal kidnap victims PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 November 2015 11:57

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday maintained it will adhere to the no ransom policy on the abduction of four persons, including three foreigners, from Samal Island in Davao del Norte province last September.

PNP Spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor made this statement following the release of a video footage from suspected members of extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) demanding a PHP4 billion ransom in exchange of the freedom of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino who were forcibly taken last Sept. 11 in Holiday Ocean View Resort in Island Garden City in Samal Island.

“The PNP adheres to the principle of no ransom policy based on government’s policy, rest assured the public, the continuing operations natin to ensure the safety of the victims, that is the primordial concern of the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Mayor told reporters in a press briefing at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.

In a 90 second video clip posted in SITE Intelligence Group International, the victims, identified as Canadians John Ridsel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Just Ran Sekingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were shown with a bladed weapon pointed to their necks by the suspects who were standing behind them.

In the video, Ridsel appealed to the Canadian Prime Minister and people of Canada to help them by paying the ransom.

Mayor said the video is being authenticated by the police Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), as he assured that all efforts are being done to ensure the safe release of the victims. He said the PNP is continuously conducting operations to rescue the victims.

Army Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado also said Wednesday the Philippine government maintains a no-ransom policy, adding there would be no let-up in efforts by his troops to secure the hostages’ freedom in the safest way possible.

In the latest video, the hostages and one of the mostly masked kidnappers said a ransom of 1 billion pesos ($21 million) must be paid for each of the captives to secure their freedom. The militant said the captives would be killed if the ransom was not paid but did not give any deadline.

One of the hostages, Canadian John Ridsdel, pleaded for Canada’s prime minister and people to heed the ransom demand “as soon as possible or our lives are in great danger.”

A militant, who did not wear a mask, pointed a knife at him and the two other captives as each of them spoke. A fourth female captive seized from Samal who has been identified by authorities as a Filipino citizen was not allowed to speak in the video.

The hostages were seen sitting on a clearing with the more than a dozen heavily-armed militants standing behind them. Two black flags were displayed in the background.

Aside from Ridsdel, Philippine authorities have identified the other hostages as Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino national Maritess Flor. They were abducted at gunpoint from a yacht-berthing resort on Samal in Davao del Norte province in the south, scene of a decades-long Muslim rebellion in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for kidnappings, beheadings, extortion and bomb attacks. The al-Qaida-linked militants have been weakened but have survived more than a decade of U.S.-backed offensives.

Following the Sept. 21 kidnappings, Philippine authorities vowed to strengthen security in the south. But three weeks later, gunmen abducted a former Italian Catholic missionary from his pizza restaurant in southern Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The abductions highlight the long-running security problems that have hounded the southern Philippines, a region with bountiful resources, but which also suffers from poverty, lawlessness and decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies. — With report from AP