Sultanate heirs volunteer to work for freedom of 2 sisters PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 10:55

The Council of Royal Sharifs yesterday volunteered to help and work for the “unconditional” release of two  sisters and members of The Peace and Conflict Journalism Network  (PeCoJoN) who were snatched by gunmen in Patikul, Sulu last Saturday morning.

Habib Mudjahab Hashim, chair of the Council of Royal Sharifs (CRS), called on the abductors of Linda and Nadjoua Bansil, both indie filmmakers to release them unconditionally for humanitarian reason.

The Bansil sisters were seized by armed men last Saturday, June 22,  2013 in Barangay Liang, Patikul, Sulu while they were on their way to Jolo, the capital town of Sulu.

Habib Hashim said the CRS which is composed of the sovereign heirs and descendants of the royal families of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, from Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan, and Zamboanga Peninsula  are so concerned about the fate of the two sisters now in the hands of their captors in Patikul.

“Members of the council are very much concerned about the fate of Bansil sisters  and we are appealing to their captors to  release them unconditionally,” Habib  Hashim said.

Linda and Nadjoua Bansil are also human rights defenders.

Their films are based on issues on human rights, the Moro culture and extractive industries such as mining, Habib Hashim said.

“Once we can locate them and  will know the people behind their abduction, we will seek immediately for their utmost  cooperation  by releasing the two sisters, safe and unconditional  to the authorities or family, Habib Hashim said in an exclusive interview at his residence in Zamboanga City

Habib Hashim said  some members of the CRS are  now trying to  locate the  two sisters  by utilizing their relatives and supporters in Patikul, a known lair of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province.

They (CRS) are  seeking the help of their relatives living in the adjacent  areas  where the two sisters where abducted by the  gunmen.

“What we need here is a concerted and join effort so we can help obtain the freedom  of the two sisters soon,” Habib Hashim  explained.

Hashim also clarified the word “Bantilan.” which simply means an officer-in-charge or an OIC.

He cited an example where a sultan  is on travel, the one who will take care of the  affairs of the sultanate is called “bantilan.”

On Thursday, the Bansil sisters  arrived in Jolo, Sulu  and were hosted by the Sulu Sultanate Arul Islam (SSDI). The following day, Friday morning they went to Sinumaan together with 19 others and stayed overnight in the area to take some shots of the sunrise. On Saturday the two sisters  in the company  of 19 others  started to take off to Jolo,  and at about 10 a.m., they were kidnapped in Barangay Liang, in  Patikul. They were on board a jeepney and the road was blocked by armed men, Len Manriquez, Pecojon’s acting national coordinator and chief of operations, in a statement said.

Manriquez said the  Bansil family also requested to allow them to internally handle the negotiations and that they wish not to divulge any information to ensure safety of the sisters.

According to Mohammed Bansil, Nadj and Linda’s younger brother and head of the Bansil family, they are Filipino citizens. In Muslim culture, he said, the nationality of the father is the nationality of the children.

Nadj and Linda finished their college at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, where they have always been active in human rights issues.

Last year, the sisters produced “Bohe”, a film that tells the story about a group of Badjaos who found home in a tiny patch of land somewhere in Southern Luzon they’ve called Badjawan Island.

“Bohe”, the first ever Badjao film, was screened in the 2012 Cinemelaya Philippine Independent film Festival and in the Cebu Documentary International Film Festival. This year, Bohe was nominated in the Gawad Urian Awards.

For a long time, Nadj has been banking a story of coffee growers in Mindanao. When the contacts were established; she decided to take her sister Linda with her to shoot the film. — Nonoy E. Lacson