AFP stands by no-ransom policy, urges kin of victims not to deal directly with kidnappers
MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines reiterated the Philippine government’s “no-ransom” policy, saying the families of kidnapping victims have always been at a disadvantage in negotiations with the abductors.
Col. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the AFP, stressed that the government would to continue to observe the “no-ransom” policy, even after the beheading of Malaysian captive Bernard Ghen Ted Fen by the Abu Sayyaf in Indanan, Sulu.
“The government has no control in negotiations conducted by the family directly with the kidnappers or hostage-takers…That’s why we discourage relatives and members of families of kidnap victims from going direct to hostage-takers, because they are at a disadvantage,” Padilla said, in a press briefing.
Padilla likewise said they have been instructed to be “prudent” in releasing any information regarding the kidnapped Malaysian national or the reported beheading. “We cannot give any confirmation because we need proof. And that proof needs to come from agencies tasked with that duty. The PNP [Scene of the Crime Operatives] and Forensics lab will determine if [the remains are those of Fen]….It is logical and prudent for us to wait for them,” Padilla said.
Padilla debunked speculations the reported beheading was somehow linked to the ongoing Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Metro Manila. Padilla hinted the AFP was connecting it more to a reported release of another Malaysian hostage last week.
“Remember that a few weeks ago, there was a release (of another captive). So you must take the context of the release of that female Malaysian kidnap victim….That is what we are looking at, that’s where we base our perspective on this incident,” Padilla said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said they would wait for conclusive forensics results before confirming if the severed head recovered in Sulu earlier in the week was that of the Malaysian Bernard Ghen Ted Fen, who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group last May.
In a press briefing in Pasay city on Thursday,Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, the PNP spokesperson, said that the remains “are now being examined by the Crime Laboratory of Police Regional Office-ARMM for identification.”
“Pending official scientific findings, at this point we cannot conclusively establish the identity of these human remains to preclude undue speculation and inaccuracy in reporting,” Mayor said.
Mayor confirmed that on 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, police recovered an abandoned package along Marina St., Barangay Walled City in Jolo, Sulu, marked “Bernard Ghen Ted Fen.” It contained a severed human head. There were reports that at around 4:30 p.m.,Wednesday, a headless body was recovered in Barangay Kagay, Indanan, Sulu. But Philippine government authorities denied that they had recovered the body of the victim.
Earlier reports on Tuesday, citing unofficial sources, said the beheading at Barangay Taran in Indanan came after government troops bombarded the area, and after the Malaysian national’s family failed to meet ransom demands.
No less than Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak expressed his outrage at the reported murder of their countryman. He called for “action against those who have perpetrated this savage and barbaric act.” SFM
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