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Archive for June 19th, 2008

More checkpoints as AFP readies strike vs Drilon kidnappers

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:36:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The military has set up more checkpoints in Sulu province as troops gear up for surgical strikes against the kidnappers of a television news team and the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, a spokesman for the Armed Forces said Thursday.

“Checkpoints were put up, set up as part of the effort to go after the kidnappers,” Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

On Wednesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Alexander Yano ordered “punitive action” against the kidnappers of ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama, and university professor Octavio Dinampo.

Except for Valderama, who was freed last June 12, Drilon’s group was released in Indanan town on Tuesday night, nine days after they were seized by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Maimbung town.

Torres said the military would be careful to avoid civilian casualties in their “relentless” pursuit against the kidnappers.

“We are very careful. We term these operations as surgical operations, intelligence-driven operations, so as to minimize unnecessary casualties,” the military spokesman said.

Torres said the military has identified the “general location” of the kidnappers.

On Wednesday morning, two men were caught in the capital town of Jolo with 3,000 blasting caps.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said 14 Abu Sayyaf bandits have been tagged in the kidnapping of the ABS-CBN crew and their guide.

Though linked to the kidnapping, Torres said the Abu Sayyaf is suffering from a “leadership problem” following the deaths of Khadaffy Janjalani, the group’s chieftain, and his second in command, Jainal Antel Sali alias Abu Solaiman, in September 2006 and January 2007 respectively.

“They have no leader, especially the likes of their founder, Abdurajak Janjalani, that seem to unify the whole terrorist organization,” Torres said.

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Thu+00:002008-06-19T18:35:29+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 19 Jun 2008 18:35:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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US Pacific Fleet chief visits Camp Aguinaldo

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:42:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The commander of the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet, Admiral Robert Willard, paid a courtesy call on the vice chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lieutenant General Cardozo Luna, in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday.

The visit was a “gesture of commitment to security cooperation and partnership,” said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr.

Luna represented AFP chief of staff General Alexander Yano, who is in Mindanao with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

No new agreements were reached in the meeting, which was closed to the media, Torres told reporters.

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Thu+00:002008-06-19T18:34:40+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 19 Jun 2008 18:34:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Drilon guide in Sulu held, may have betrayed TV crew–Razon

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:07:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A guide of the television news crew that was abducted early this month has been arrested on suspicion that he “betrayed” them by leading them to their captors in the province of Sulu, Philippine National Police Chief Avelino Razon Jr. said Thursday.

Razon identified the suspect as “alias Mameng.”

“Alias Mameng is under arrest. He is in Jolo, Sulu. We investigate him. He is the one suspected to have betrayed the group of Ces Drilon,” Razon told a news conference in Camp Crame.

Drilon, her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama; and professor Octavio Dinampo, were kidnapped last June 8 by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf in Kulasi town, Maimbung village. Drilon, Encarnacion, and Dinampo were release late Tuesday night. Valderama was freed June 12 after payment of “board and lodging fee.”

Dinampo is “not a suspect” and is undergoing debriefing in Zamboanga City, Razon said.

“This alias Mameng was supposed to be the guide that brought Ces Drilon and her group to that place in Indanan, where they would meet the group that they were supposed to interview,” the PNP chief said.

“But along the way, this alias Mameng disappeared, so that is one of the things that we are questioning, why he disappeared,” he said.

At a news conference upon her arrival in Manila on Wednesday afternoon, Drilon said she and her group were “betrayed.”

Razon said 14 Abu Sayyaf members were identified to have been involved in the kidnapping. A P500,000-bounty was put up for two of the 14 earlier this week.

Kidnap for ransom charges will be filed against Indanan town Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son, Haider, who negotiated with the kidnappers.

Razon said a parallel investigation was underway to determine if ransom was paid for the release of the ABS-CBN crew and Dinampo.

The PNP chief said authorities were looking into the alleged unloading of two duffel bags at the Zamboanga City airport on the eve of the release. Reports insinuated that the bags contained ransom money.

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Thu+00:002008-06-19T08:18:14+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 19 Jun 2008 08:18:14 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Four suspected rebels slain in Camarines Sur clash–military

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:50:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Four suspected communist rebels were killed in an encounter with government forces in Camarines Sur province on Thursday, a military spokesman said.

Troops from the 42nd Infantry Battalion and the 504th Police Provincial Mobile Group were on patrol in sitio (sub-village) Talictic, Cawayan village, Tinambac town when they encountered an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels at around 10 a.m., Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

After a 30-minute firefight ensued, the bodies of the four rebels and three M16 rifles were recovered, Torres said.

There were no reports of casualties on the government side, the spokesman said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given security forces until the end of her term in 2010 to “defeat” the NPA, which numbered around 5,000 at the end of the first quarter of 2008, according to military estimates.

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Thu+00:002008-06-19T08:16:37+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 19 Jun 2008 08:16:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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3,000 blasting caps seized in Sulu checkpoint

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:07:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Three thousand blasting caps were seized from two men at a checkpoint in the capital town of Jolo in Sulu, a Marine commander in the area said Thursday.

The checkpoints were set up following the abduction of ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon, her crew, and a professor by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf who kept them in the province for more than a week.

The two suspects, on board a motorcycle, were flagged down at a junction in Alat village at 10 a.m. Wednesday, hours after Drilon and company were released.

The blasting caps, packed in bundles of 100 caps each, were hidden in a bag, Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan, commander of the 4th Marine Battalion Landing Team, said in a phone interview.

The two suspects were on their way to Indanan town when they were apprehended. They were later turned over to local police, said
Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., Armed Forces spokesman.

Caculitan said it was not immediately clear if the two were affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf, which operates in the area.

“A blasting cap is an explosive in itself. Each piece, one blasting cap is used for one IED [improvised explosive device]. There is a possibility that these can be used by bad elements,” Caculitan said.

Asked if the two were members of the Abu Sayyaf, Caculitan said: “They may be, they may be not, one thing [for sure] is they were handling explosives, and that is illegal.”

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Thu+00:002008-06-19T08:15:37+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 19 Jun 2008 08:15:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Sulu negotiators in Drilon kidnapping face raps

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By Joel Guinto, Thea Alberto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:25:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3) Kidnap for ransom charges will be filed against a town mayor in Sulu and his son who negotiated for the release of a television news team over circumstantial evidence that the two had connived with the Abu Sayyaf group, police officials said Thursday.

The complaint for four counts of kidnapping against Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider will be filed at the Department of Justice later in the day for their alleged involvement in the abduction of ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon, her crew, and a professor at the Mindanao State University, PNP Chief Avelino Razon said.

Razon and Chief Superintendent Raul Castañeda, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said police have witnesses that implicated the Isnajis in the kidnapping.

“Based on the revelations given by witnesses, we have seen that Mayor Alvarez Isnaji is a principal suspect in this kidnapping case of Ces Drilon,” Razon said.

The witnesses include government officials and policemen who “know certain facts relating to the kidnapping case” and were “present during the incident,” Razon said. He declined to elaborate.

After Drilon’s group was released and their statements were taken, Razon said, “The fact that Mayor Alvarez Isnaji was involved in the kidnapping unraveled.”

Razon said there were “inconsistencies” in Isnaji’s statement but refused to elaborate, pending the filing of formal charges.

Razon also noted that the town mayor was appointed by the kidnappers as their negotiator with government, even as the local officials tapped Sulu Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidula to hold negotiations.

“Mayor Isnaji was not among the government negotiators. He was negotiating for the kidnap for ransom group,” he said.

The mayor’s son, Haider, was a “conduit,” Razon said, adding that the young Isnaji “was also talking [with the kidnappers] and doing the things that his father was doing.”

“Based on the recommendation of our lawyers and investigators, we will be filing charges against the Isnajis,” Castañeda said in a separate interview earlier in the day.

The Isnajis were brought to the CIDG Wednesday and underwent “tactical interrogation.” They are still under the custody of the CIDG.

Castañeda said the PNP would present the Isnajis in a press conference later this Thursday.

Drilon, her cameraman Jimmy Encaracion and Angelo Valderama; and professor Octavio Dinampo were abducted last June 8.

Valderama was released June 12 after payment of “board and lodging fee.” The other three were released late Tuesday night. The ABS-CBN news team is now in Manila. The government and the television network claimed that despite a P15 million ransom demanded by the abductors, no money was paid for the release of Drilon and company.

With a report from Alcuin Papa, Inquirer

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-19T08:14:48+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 19 Jun 2008 08:14:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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