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Sulu negotiators in Drilon kidnapping face raps

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By Joel Guinto, Thea Alberto
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

ThuUTC2008-06-19T08:14:48+00:00UTC06bUTCThu, 19 Jun 2008 08:14:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

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