Japanese kidnap victim now Abu Sayyaf cook, say police
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have dropped Japanese treasure hunter Toshio Ito from the list of “active kidnap victims” in Mindanao because he has supposedly joined the Abu Sayyaf extremist group as cook, but they are not as sure about the fates of five other foreign kidnap victims.
Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, Sulu police chief, said they got verified information that Ito, 63, a Muslim convert who was abducted on Pangutaran Island in Sulu on July 16, 2010, was now a member of the Abu Sayyaf.
“He was dropped from the active list of kidnapped victims because we don’t consider him as captive anymore,” said Chief Superintendent Mario Avenido, ARMM police chief.
Freyra said the two other foreigners kidnapped in Sulu will also be taken off the same list.
He said the authorities were still verifying information that Malaysian gecko trader Mohammad Nasauddin Bin Saidin, who was kidnapped last May 8 last year, had long been released from captivity.
“We are trying to locate the negotiator who was responsible for his release,” Freya said.
With respect to Indian national Biju Kolara Veettil, who was abducted last June 22 in Barangay Tugas in Patikul, the police got information he had been executed, he said.
Veettil married a local and was visiting his in-laws when abducted by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen.
“He was reportedly killed but this still needs validation,” Freyra said.
In Tawi-Tawi, Governor Sadikul Sahali was tightlipped on developments in the case of two bird watchers— Dutch Ewold Horn and Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra— who were abducted last February 1 along with their Filipino colleague Ivan Sarenas. Sarenas managed to escape.
In Basilan, Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said they have been receiving reports that resort owner Larry delos Santos, who was kidnapped in Isabela City on December 14, 2010, had died in captivity.
“But because of the absence of proof of death it is very difficult to declare so,” he said.
In Zamboanga Sibugay, the authorities said there has been no favorable development in the case of Australian national Richard Warren Rodwell.
Rodwell, a retired Australian soldier, was abducted from his house in Ipil on last December 5.
Ipil Mayor Eldwin Alibutdan said while they were still dealing with the Rodwell kidnapping, another kidnapping incident took place. The victim, Mel John Auditor, a son of a village official, was abducted Sunday off Palid village, he said.
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