Kidnapped Australian turned down security, ignored warnings, says mayor
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Kidnapped Australian national Warren Richard Rodwell had been briefed about possible security risks as soon as he arrived in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, and had been offered security protection but he allegedly turned it down.
Ipil acting Mayor Alberto Alcoriza told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Rodwell, who had said he was a retired member of the Australian Army, told authorities he could well protect himself.
“He told us then that he’d fight back in case he encountered security problems,” Alcoriza said by phone.
He said Rodwell, who was married to a Filipina, had told authorities during a security briefing which was also attended by several other foreigners in June, that “he can manage and that he had a firearm.”
In the wake of the Rodwell kidnapping, town officials were planning to call another peace and order briefing, Alcoriza said.
“We are planning to call another peace and order council meeting to discuss the presence of other foreigners here, including Indian and Chinese nationals, and if there’s a need to ask them to leave for a while or transfer to a safer barangay (village), we will do that,” he said.
Senior Superintendent Ruben Cariaga, Zamboanga Sibugay police chief, said Rodwell apparently did not have a chance to use his 9-millimeter pistol. The police’s Scene of Crime Operatives recovered the gun tucked under a pillow inside the victim’s house.
Cariaga said they have considered many angles in the Rodwell kidnapping, including the involvement of the Abu Sayyaf.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for Rodwell’s kidnapping.
He said the foreigner’s wife was removed from the list of possible suspects because she was open about the status of her relationship with Rodwell from the start.
Miraflor, Rodwell’s wife, had told police they had not been living together since November 25, when they had a fight.
“She is a battered wife so she decided to distance herself from her husband,” Alcoriza said, adding that Rodwell’s treatment of his wife had nothing to do with the kidnapping.
The authorities would not release new information on the progress of the search-and-rescue operation for Rodwell.
Chief Superintendent Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said “a news blackout was declared by (Camp) Crame,” national headquarters of the Philippine National Police.
“Kindly re-direct your queries to the Chief PIO in Crame for any update of the Rodwell kidnapping case,” Khu said.
A police official said Australian Embassy officials had requested Philippine authorities not to release information on the progress of the search-and-rescue operation.
Originally posted at 05:42 pm | Wednesday, December 07, 2011
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