The Daily Tribune
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Everyone is relieved and happy that ABS-CBN broadcaster Ces Oreña-Drilon, her cameraman, Jimmy Encarnacion, and their guide, Mindanao State University professor, Octavio Dinampo, are now out of the clutches of their Abu Sayyaf abductors, safe and sound. And everyone
hopes this experience they underwent will not bring about a serious emotional trauma for them in the days to come.
That having been said, negotiators and government officials should stop insulting the intelligence of the Filipino with claims that no ransom was paid since the kidnappers, so they said, accepted the alternative of being given livelihood projects instead.
One can understand the denials of ransom of some P15 to 20 million having been paid to the Abu Sayyaf abductors by those involved in the negotiations. To publicly admit that ransom was paid would open the floodgates to more kidnappings of media personalities and other celebrities, with even higher ransom demands, placing other lives in more danger.
Not one of them — whether it is the ABS-CBN management or the police and military, or even the negotiators — is expected to publicly admit that indeed, ransom was paid to save the hostages’ life.
But to claim the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) that kidnapped Drilon and company had released the hostages for livelihood projects or out of their good heart really strains credulity.
In the first place, these ASG gunmen committed the crime of kidnapping with ransom and by rights, the government authorities are duty bound to capture them and bring them to justice.
It follows then that the claimed livelihood projects could not possibly been offered or given to these bandits, nor would this proposal have been accepted by the bandits.
Just to whom will the government grant the livelihood projects? To the kidnappers who are surely wanted by the government?
Surely, the authorities do not expect Drilon’s kidnappers to come forward and claim their “livelihood projects” knowing that not only will they nabbed, but also killed.
The fact that the released hostages had to walk from their dwellings for five whole hours before they were met by authorities and negotiators, was already a clear indication of the ASG captors’ move to escape from the government forces. Five hours would give them more than sufficient time to hie off, with the ransom money, to another bandit lair for safety.
This has been the style of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers, whether it is the Italian priest Fr. Bossi or the Sipadan hostages, or the Palawan Dos Palmas and Lamitan hostages, or anyone else held hostage by these Islamic bandits, with the same story of their suddenly being left by themselves by their kidnappers and where they made their escape by walking for miles and miles, and then suddenly met by a group that brings them to safety. This is always the style, repeated over and over again.
It was evident that, with the deadline for the ransom money set for Tuesday given before its expiry, the ransom had to be delivered, which explains the presence of a SeaAir plane landing in Jolo, with the pick-up of Sulu Vice Gov. Lady Ann Sahidulla by its side, and a still unidentified person carrying two duffel bags, obviously containing the ransom money.
Another indication that the ransom was delivered to the bandits at the specified deadline set by the ASG was when Hainer, the son of negotiator Indanan mayor, Isnaji Alvarez, told media that the bandits had agreed to an indefinite extension for negotiations, which is yet another silly line.
Why would there be an indefinite extension for negotiations, and shortly after their having threatened to behead the hostages? For the livelihood projects claimed to have been offered? Why bother with an indefinite time for negotiations of the release of Drilon and company?
But that was obviously claimed by the runner and negotiator after the ransom demand was already met and as they were not about to admit that the hostages were already being readied for release, they had to come up with that silly line of an indefinite extension.
In time, the ASG abductors, who have been identified will be killed, perhaps in a firefight with government troops.
Justice will have been done.