Duterte: Rule out NPA rebs in Samal Island kidnapping
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the kidnapping of three Westerners and a Filipino woman from a resort on Samal Island on Monday night was the work of professionals and not by communist rebels.
Duterte, chair of the Southern Mindanao Peace and Order Council, spoke amid reports about a note purportedly written by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Maritess Flor.
“The way they (the kidnappers) executed their movement was very precise, they did not exhibit any hesitancy, not even fear,” Duterte said.
No KFR for NPA
Duterte said the kidnappers were definitely not NPA rebels.
“The NPAs don’t kidnap for money, it’s an ideological thing for them, although they oftentimes abduct soldiers, they don’t do that to civilians,” he said.
Duterte, however, could not say which group was behind the Samal Island kidnappings.
“If it happened between Zamboanga and Siasi, it could be the Abu Sayyaf, he said, but added: “It’s hard to say.”
Hundreds of policemen and elite Army troops are scouring the mountains of the Davao provinces, where the kidnappers are believed to have taken their captives after slipping past a naval blockade on Tuesday.
Duterte said he had sought the help of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the rescue operation for the kidnap victims.
The MNLF promised to help, he said.
Rolando Olamit, chair of the MNLF Davao state, said on Friday that the group had mobilized its intelligence units to help the government find the kidnappers and rescue the victims.
“The leadership of the MNLF has already issued an order to immediately gather information about the identity and the location of the armed men,” Olamit said.
He also said that while the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group Abu Sayyaf had the capability to carry out an operation like the attack on Samal Island, he was not sure that the bandit group was behind the kidnappings.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines gave assurance on Friday that military troops in Mindanao would get all the logistical support they needed in going after the kidnappers.
Gen. Hernando Iriberri, AFP chief of staff, traveled to Davao City on Friday to meet with officials of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), the military unit supporting the Philippine National Police in the hunt for the kidnappers.
Col. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson for the AFP, said the military considered the resolution of the Samal kidnappings a “national priority.”
“The AFP chief wants to ensure that the police receive enough support from the military. He also went out of his way to ensure that the Eastmincom gets what it needs for these operations,” Padilla said.
Padilla, however, declined to provide details of the operations, which, he said, were going on mostly in the Davao area.
A military source said many of the early leads had “gone cold,” but the military was looking at fresh reports from the field. With Julie M. Aurelio in Manila