Without ransom, Aussie would have been killed by Easter, says Basilan vice governor
MANILA, Philippines — The freed Australian kidnap victim Warren Rodwell arrived in Manila on Monday afternoon, for rest and a medical check-up, according to officials.
The private plane carrying the 54-year-old Aussie landed at the Manila Domestic Airport at around 4 p.m., officials of the Australian Embassy in Manila told reporters who were waiting at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport- Terminal 2.
Appearing thin and frail, Rodwell stood in front of the media crews and issued a statement for less than a minute before leaving.
“I would like to convey my thanks to the Philippine government, the Australian government and all those who helped in my release,” Rodwell said with a crack in his voice.
“There was a great sense of helplessness and I was overwhelmed,” he said speaking in a low voice, describing his 15-month captivity in the hands of a group of bandit believed to be Abu Sayyaf Group.
“I am happy to be released,” he said thanking the Philippine officials for their “effort and compassion.”
When asked how was he, he said: “I’m getting stronger.” Reporters were no longer allowed to ask him questions afterward.
Rodwell, who was wearing blue long-sleeved shirt and khaki trousers, was welcomed by officials of the Australian Embassy and officials of the Philippine National Police.
Basilan Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul who helped in the negotiations for Rodwell’s release also met the freed Australian at the airport.
In an interview with reporters at the NAIA Terminal 2, Sakalahul admitted that he had escorted the kin of Rodwell who met the leaders
of the Abu Sayyaf and handed over the P4-million ransom.
“He (Rodwell) was scheduled to be killed on Easter Sunday if the ransom was not paid,” Sakalahul said.
Senior Supt. Renato Gumban, acting director of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group said Rodwell would most likely stay for one to two weeks in Manila “to rest and undergo medical checkup.”
“We will wait for him to fully recuperate before we subject him to an intelligence debriefing,” Gumban said.
Gumban said the police would file the charges against Rodwell’s captors before his scheduled flight to Australia.
Rodwell was abducted in December 2011 after bandits posing as policemen barged into his home in Ipil town where he lived with his Filipina wife. His captors had been threatening to kill Rodwell “in an unusual way” if ransom was not paid.
He was released Saturday in Pagadian City.