Saturday, January 14, 2017

ASG frees Korean, Pinoy after talks with gov’t

From the Daily Tribune (Jan 15): ASG frees Korean, Pinoy after talks with gov’t

Abu Sayyaf bandits yesterday released two of their captives for nearly three months, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said.

In a press conference in Davao City, Dureza said they were able to negotiate with the Islamic militants to free a Korean national and a Filipino whom they kept hostage since October last year.

The hostages were Korean Cargo vessel Dongbang Giant 2 captain Chul Hong Park, 38, and his crew Glenn Alindajao, 31, a Cebu native.

“Their cargo vessel was boarded off Tawi-Tawi while sailing from Australia to South Korea. Only 2 of them, as they were on the ship bridge navigating, were taken by 10 armed men on board a speedboat,” Dureza said.

Dureza maintained that the Duterte administration is firm in its “no ransom policy” in dealing with kidnap for ransom groups saying it will only boost the terrorists’ morale to extort funds from captives.

“The government official policy is not to pay ransom. You know why? The more money you gave to them, the more it strengthens them, the more they are encouraged to continue that illegal trade,” Dureza said.

But the Presidential Peace Adviser declined to confirm or deny if the former captives’ families gave in to the Abu Sayyaf’s demands, but assured that the state did not bankroll their freedom in any way.

“As far as the government is concerned, we don’t get involved in any ransom payments at all,” he said.

This is the third time that the mainly Sulu-based bandits surrendered hostage victims to Dureza.

First was days before President Duterte occupied Malacanang wherein he personally received Marites Flor on June 25 last year. Second was Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad on Sept. 18.

Flor and Sekkingstad were fortunate enough to survive from their captors. Their companions  Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel were beheaded by the  bandits.

Dureza said other crews were able to lock up their cabins when the armed men boarded the ship. Park and Alindajao were taken to a place on board a speed boat.

“It was only today that they knew they were in Sulu,” Dureza said. He said the first time they (victims) were told they were in Basilan.

From the first armed group reportedly led by a certain Abraham, Dureza said the two were turned over to another group of armed men. Abraham was later reported killed in a military pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

He said Park and Alindajao were turned over to several armed groups. Sometimes they find their selves in a community. At times, they slept under the trees in the forest.

Dureza said Park and Alindajao were already hopeless and were not fine. They also need to undergo trauma counseling.

Dureza could not confirm if the armed men are members of the Abu Sayyaf Group. “I can’t speculate,” he said.

A representative of the Korean ship company, Kim Yangjun said the company did not pay money in exchange for the release. “Why should we pay?” he asked.

The negotiations for the release of Park and Alindajao were joint efforts of concerned individuals and the help of Moro national Liberation front (MNLF) under the guidance of chair Nur Misuari.

“I do not know the details of how they were released. They were just turned over to me by Tan,” Dureza said, although negotiations started after their abduction.

On his way to Jolo, Dureza said he immediately informed President  Duterte through special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go.

The incident was the first kidnapping on a merchant ship. It was even regarded by the International Maritime Bureau’s Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Center as a landmark incident.

According to Dureza, Alindajao was suggesting that a state security force must be onboard ships to counter kidnapping on open seas.

Dureza said this can be raised to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a common policy on addressing such issues. He admitted that the spate of kidnappings in open sea is embarrassing to the government.

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