CMFR Philippines Alert: Three journalists abducted by terrorist group

CMFR/Philippines— Three journalists from a major media network along with their source have been missing since 8 June 2008 in Sulu, Mindanao, and are believed to have been abducted by the Abu Sayyaf, the terrorist group based in Southern Philippines. Sulu is an island approximately 1,000 km south of Manila.

ABS-CBN network released a statement on 10 June 2008 stating that senior correspondent Cecilia Victoria “Ces” Oreña-Drilon and cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama were “missing in Sulu,” Together with Mindanao State University Professor Octavio Dinampo, who had invited the three journalists to Sulu.

ABS-CBN said in a statement that “(a)ll efforts are underway to find them and bring them home.”

“Until we learn more details, ABS-CBN requests other media to report on this matter with utmost consideration for the safety of our news team. ABS-CBN News is in touch with the families and asks that their privacy be respected,” the network said.

In a report by online news site Inquirer.net, Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was quoted as saying the three media practitioners and Dinampo were intercepted Sunday in Maimbung, a town in Jolo, Sulu, by armed men under Albader Parader, an Abu Sayyaf leader in the area. The group was reportedly intercepted after their vehicle left a university hostel.

There has been no confirmed report of any ransom demands.

Drilon is a familiar face in Philippine TV news. She has been 12 years in broadcasting, according to her profile on the ABS-CBN website. She received the New Breed Reporter of the Year Award in the 1995 New Breed Awards for Television Broadcast Journalism Excellence, and was one of the awardees in the The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service in 2004.

The Abu Sayyaf has carried out bombings and high-profile kidnappings and beheadings in the Philippines.

In 2000, ABS-CBN cameraman Val Cuenca and researcher/writer Maan Macapagal were kidnapped in Jolo by the Abu Sayyaf while they were covering an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping. Around 21 hostages had been kidnapped by the Abu Sayaff from a diving resort in Sidapan, Malaysia.

Cuenca and Macapagal were released after nearly a week in captivity after negotiations, with ABS-CBN, which said that no ransom was paid. In the same month, 10 foreign journalists who were reporting on the same hostage incident were also abducted in Jolo. They were released only after they had been divested of their equipment and valuables.

Two journalists from France— Jean-Jacques Le Garrec, Roland Madura—were also abducted in July 2000 by the Abu Sayyaf. Garrec and Madura managed to flee after they escaped during dark days after their abduction.

Freelance journalist Arlyn dela Cruz was also abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu April 2002.

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