Ransom or no ransom

Anthony Chua

The reason of ABS-CBN anchor and senior reporter Ces Drilon, three ABS-CBN cameramen, and their guide, Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo’s journey to Sulu raised the eyebrows of the Filipinos. Why knock at the doors of a ruthless criminal group, which has a record of mercilessly abducting journalists such as Susan Enriquez and Arlyn de la Cruz? To this Drilon confessed that they were betrayed. In a press conference held right after she and the group was released, she said, “Ang gusto ko lang gumawa ng istorya tungkol dito (Mindanao) (I just want to get a story from here).” She said that the group’s guide was betrayed and deceived by some unidentified person(s). Drilon leaves the discovery of the betrayer’s identity to the authorities. Later, early morning of June 20, the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed a formal complaint against Indanan, Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider before the Department of Justice. Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Avelino Razon and Chief Superintendent Raul Castañeda, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, revealed that they have witnesses linking the Isnajis to the abduction of the news team and their guide. With these developments, the public may rest its speculations on the motive of Drilon’s detrimental journey to Mindanao and to the criminal’s lair. Anyway it’s a journalist’s license to report news anywhere out of their sheer courage and curiosity, as long as it’s within the parameters of the law and the Journalists’ Code of Ethics. But what is still puzzling is how the group was released. Abu Sayyaf is one of the world’s most notorious criminal organizations. The US Department of the State even branded it as a terrorist group, being responsible for killing many people with their bombings, kidnappings and murders. They have the capacity and the nerve to kill, especially so if their demand for ransom to be used for intensifying their campaign is at stake. If that’s so, then what convinced the bandits to release Drilon and company alive and unharmed? The police and government initially said that there was no ransom (Abu Sayyaf demanded P15 million) was handed over to the kidnappers. Apparently it was the presence of Sen. Loren Legarda, once a colleague of Drilon as an anchor in ABS-CBN, in the negotiations that helped facilitate the freedom of the group. The senator said she worked for the “unconditional release” of the victims. After that silence followed. Meanwhile, Indanan, Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, the chief negotiator, said that he offered livelihood projects in place of ransom. Filipinos and the rest of the world might just shrug their shoulders at this story if this is merely political. But the Drilon and company’s abduction story, wherein an extremely notorious criminal group is involved, was not an occasion for political grandstanding or media mileage. More so, this is not a moro-moro wherein the audience and readers are aware that what they are witnessing is just mere fiction. This is a very serious matter that will continue to haunt the security and safety of Filipinos and the rest of the peace-loving world as long as the culprits are still on the loose, with or without the obtained ransom or “livelihood package,” and until punishment is still not rendered to the high-grade crooks. We just hope that Ces Drilon and Sen. Loren Legarda, both reputable and multi-awarded media personalities, will not deprive the public of the truth.


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