Get Abu Sayyaf, PH gov’t urged

2 other groups linked to kidnap


The family of a freed Australian hostage expressed hope on Monday that his kidnappers, including Abu Sayyaf bandits and rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who kept him in jungle captivity for 15 months, would be captured and punished so such ordeals would not be repeated.

A former Australian Army soldier, Warren Richard Rodwell, was released early Saturday in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur, emaciated and barely able to walk from his long captivity in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf, a bandit group dreaded for its signature act of beheading some of its hostages.

Australian and US security officials brought Rodwell, 54, to a hospital in Zamboanga City to recover. He was flown to Manila on Monday afternoon.

Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul of Basilan, who helped negotiate Rodwell’s freedom, said that an Abu Sayyaf commander, Puruji Indama, had agreed to release him after receiving P4 million in ransom from the Australian’s family last week.

Sakalahul, citing intelligence reports, said he suspected at least three armed groups, including the Abu Sayyaf, were involved in the kidnapping.

Working together, two separate criminal groups appeared to have abducted Rodwell on the Zamboanga Peninsula and held him there or on nearby islands, while the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf negotiated for money.

Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf was started in the 1990s, is a short boat ride from the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Rodwell is married to a Filipino woman whose cousin handed the ransom payment to Indama in Basilan’s hinterland in Sakalahul’s presence, Sakalahul said.

Both the Australian and Philippine governments have strict policies of refusing to pay ransom.

No deal with terrorists

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” President Benigno Aquino III told reporters on Monday after speaking at the anniversary celebration of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines in Pasay City.

“We don’t encourage these ransom payments, but we can’t stop the family from raising funds to save their loved one,” Sakalahul said, expressing alarm at how different armed groups now appeared to be conspiring to carry out kidnappings.

Rodwell’s family struggled to raise funds to meet the kidnappers’ ransom demand, including selling some of their properties, according to an official confidential report seen by The Associated Press (AP).

After checking if the money was authentic, Indama counted the bundled bills and said he would order Rodwell freed. He even promised to return the money if the release was scuttled, Sakalahul said.

A Philippine military official who closely monitored the kidnapping said he suspected rogue members of the MILF, which signed a preliminary peace accord with the government last year, the Abu Sayyaf and a kidnap gang called the Al Khobar group collaborated in kidnapping Rodwell, according to AP.

Plea for justice

Rodwell’s sister Denise Cappello and brother Wayne Rodwell flew to Manila on Monday to meet him.

They read a family statement expressing hope that Philippine police could track down the gunmen.

“We hope they will be brought to justice so others don’t have to experience what Warren has just been through,” they told a news conference, declining to answer questions and appealing to journalists to give privacy to their exhausted brother.

They thanked Philippine and Australian officials who worked for Rodwell’s release.

Over the last 15 months, Rodwell appeared in several proof-of-life videos posted by the kidnappers. His jungle captivity appeared to have taken a toll on his health, and he looked weaker in each video.

Once, his desperate captors suggested they would behead him if they did not get a ransom payment.

When his captors let him go from a motor boat in Pagadian, the still-dazed Rodwell plodded through a muddy coast until he was found by a villager, who asked if he was a tourist. He replied that he had just been freed by kidnappers and asked for help.

The Abu Sayyaf, which is on a US list of terrorist organizations, is believed to be still holding two Europeans, a Jordanian journalist, a Malaysian and a Japanese treasure hunter on Jolo.

US-backed Philippine military operations have in recent years eased attacks and terrorist plots waged by the Abu Sayyaf, which is estimated to have 350 fighters who have split into several groups.

But the al-Qaida-linked group remains a serious security threat in the impoverished region, where minority Muslims have been fighting for self-rule for decades.  Reports from AP, Tarra Quismundo and TJ Burgonio

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Brax82

    Noytards: “Wag na, baka madamay ang marami sa Mindanao, at masira ang negotiations with MILF.” In short,ok lang sila na walang pakialam ang pangulo basta masaya sya sa pangangampanya at nangunguna sila sa SWS at Pulse Asia. Buhay uto-uto.

  • Albert Einstien

    it’s FUNd in the Philippines…visit philippines if you have FUNds.. for your LIFE CHANGING moments…KIDNA-FUNd, HOLD-UFUNd, CARNA-FUNd…… FULL ADRENALIN RUSH govt of NOYNOYING GUARANTEED……NO RE-FUNd….. … : > ).

  • spiritnsoul700

    The Philippines at its best finest… as the KIDNAPPING CAPITAL for she is rightfully THE SICKMAN OF ASIA.

    It is never an advantage being a Foreigner in the Philippines, it be tourist, investor or permanent foreign retiree. As of right now , in some places, flyers/slogan of “its been more fun in the Philippines’ end up into the trash bins after this latest paid out ransom news hit international abroad.

    The time will come when foreign investors start to avoid the Philippines again, movetheir investments else where and shift out of the country. Tourists avoid the country at all cost, if the present government officials are still not lifting a finger to ensure safety for tourists and for Foreigners who are based in the country

  • ApoLapullapu

    Vice Governor Sakahalulul witnessing the payment of ransom? I thought there is a “no ransom policy” of the government! Maybe Sahahalul deserves to be investigated.

  • virgo57

    Tausugs & Yakans are tribes components of ASG & MNLF/MILF. Their leaders are negotiating with the ignoramus Manila government in the name of peace where in real sense their leaders are negotiating for dole out and bargaining. This peace talk will be a failure without doubt same with the previous negotiations because secession and governing Mindanao is the real agenda and this is where friction comes in and a new war will erupt of a cycle of scripted trouble. The enterprising generals mostly from Luzon will make hefty sum at the expense of Mindanaoans and the worst part we tapped the arrogant stenchy Malaysian government as mediator where in truth and in fact coddled, trained and financed the Muslim bandits. ASG is a monster creation by the Malaysian kaya ang lalakas ng apog ng mga tamad at social climber na Ito. Binebebe kasi ang terrorista at pag naiipit sa Sabah ang takbo at pag nagutom balik sa specialty nila kidnapping syempre meron cut ang mga generals, local politician at LGU kaya backyard industry sa kanina ang ganitong activities.

    • AnakSabah

      - In your summation, “arrogant stenchy Malaysian government” is the main contributor to your problems in Mindanao.

      – I beg to differ.

      – If you feel that way, please ask your Govt. to discontinue our “mediator” role and go solve your problems first.

      – Then, get your Sulu elders to sit down to anoint the real Sultan of Sulu. Is Malaysian Govt. interfere here too?

      – Get MNLF, MILF, Abu Sayaf and the rest of Moro rebels to sit down to talk about your Mindanao agenda or something like that as the kidnapping has to stop. It is a very shameful act and not a good way to generate revenue long term. Perhaps, we should finance Abu Sayaf too, so that they can stop the kidnapping activities.

      – “enterprising generals mostly from Luzon”, are they appointed by Malaysian Govt. toot? Good lord, if they were.

      – Seriously, ask yourself, what is peace to “Mindanaoans” ? There are some 800,000 “Mindanaoans” in Sabah who are living in peace, except few, and earning good simple livings. Do not ask us Malaysian what we can do to help, please ask yourself what have you and your countrymen have done to make these people lead a happy normal life.

      – I am a Sabahan, paying my taxes so that these people, can have excess to good educations, medical services, clean water, electricity etc. What have you done?

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos