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Dinampo clears Isnajis in kidnap of ABS-CBN team

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Cops threaten to treat professor as suspect

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:36:00 07/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A university professor who was kidnapped with an ABS-CBN television news crew in Sulu last month cleared Indanan town Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son, Haider, of involvement in the crime, saying the two were “absolutely innocent” and should be “commended and praised” instead of prosecuted.

But Mindanao State University (MSU) professor Octavio Dinampo found himself in hot water for defending the Isnajis during the continuation of inquest proceedings at the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) headquarters in Camp Crame.

Senior Superintendent Joel Coronel, the lead investigator in the case, said if police find inconsistencies in Dinampo’s statements, he could be considered a suspect along with the mayor and his son.

Dinampo was with news anchor Ces Drilon and cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, when they were kidnapped early last month, reportedly by the Abu Sayyaf.

He was released with Drilon and Encarnacion on June 18, after the payment of a P5-million peso ransom. Valderama had been released earlier.

Mayor Isnaji and his son were key negotiators for the release of the kidnapped journalists and Dinampo. But they were later arrested and accused of plotting the abduction and pocketing P3 million of the ransom.

“That I have consistently claimed that Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and Haider Isnaji are absolutely innocent of the said kidnapping…and it is very unfair and unreasonable to charge them of such offense which they never committed,” Dinampo said in the six-page affidavit he submitted.

“That while the Isnajis deserve to be commended and praised for having gone to the limits in protecting our interest and safety while [we] were in the hands of our abductors, and risked their own lives, they had instead been put under indescribable humiliation and
uncompromising situations,” he said.

Coronel said they were surprised with Dinampo’s supplemental affidavit, but he said this would not weaken the case against the Isnajis.

“We have other witnesses other than Dinampo. We can establish the case against the Isnajis,” he told reporters after the inquest.

“If we find inconsistencies in his [Dinampo’s] affidavit, we might consider him a suspect also,” he added.

Dinampo said that judging by the “acts and expressions of their abductors, at no instance did it show that the Isnajis conspired with them or were part of the group.”

The professor said the abductors tapped the mayor to negotiate for their release because the latter was a former “high-ranking and well-respected” leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and former acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

But police said tapping the Isnajis as negotiators showed that they were in cahoots with the kidnappers of the ABS-CBN new team.

But Dinampo said that on two occasions on June 12, he heard Isnaji talking with the kidnappers “in [a] strong voice, asking the kidnappers to release us without any ransom and that Mayor Alvarez Isnaji challenged the kidnappers to talk like grown-ups and not to act like disrespectful children.”

The professor said one of the abductors, whom he identified as Sali Suab, did not initially have a direct line to Mayor Isnaji, and had to ask a friend in Zamboanga City, identified only as Toots, for the phone number of Haider Isnaji.

Dinampo also said in his affidavit that their guide, Juamil “Maming” Biyaw, should be charged as “co-conspirator” in the kidnapping since he knew all along that Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron, whom Drilon wanted to interview, “had long planned” to abduct the news team.

“As per his [Biyaw’s] admission, most of our abductors were his relatives and he knew of their plan, as he was the one who made the arrangements for our intended meeting with Radullan Sahiron on June 8, 2008,” Dinampo said.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-07-07T13:48:50+00:00UTC07bUTCMon, 07 Jul 2008 13:48:50 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm07

Posted in Uncategorized

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