Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:38
Philippine authorities said a kidnapped Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell is alive, but frail and weak, and that security forces are still searching for the former Sydney man.
Rodwell, 52, was seized on December last year by 6 gunmen, disguised as policemen, from his house in the seaside town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province where he married a Filipina woman Miraflor Gutang, 27.
Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, the regional police commander for Western Mindanao, said Rodwell is believed being held captive in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
“Police intelligence reports indicate that Rodwell is in Basilan province and is being transferred from one place to another (to evade detection by authorities),” he said during a peace and order meeting last week in Zamboanga City.
He said Rodwell, a former soldier in the Australian army, was said to be in the towns of Lantawan and Sumisip.
“We are doing our best to locate and rescue Rodwell. My office is coordinating with the (police forces) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao because Rodwell has been brought by his captors outside my jurisdiction. Our troopers are working 24 hours on the ground for the rescue of Rodwell,” Estilles said.
A local newspaper reported that Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Rommel Jalosjos said the kidnappers are now demanding P20 million for the safe release of Rodwell. Jalosjos did not say if he is in contact with the kidnappers or negotiating for Rodwell’s freedom.
Police and military have tagged the Abu Sayyaf which has links with both al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, as behind the kidnapping of Rodwell. The group originally demanded $2 million in exchange for the release of Rodwell.
The Philippine army earlier reported that Rodwell was spirited out of Basilan to Zamboanga Peninsula because of intense military operation against the Abu Sayyaf.
“We have been receiving a lot of intelligence about Rodwell and his captors and many of these reports are also misinformation. There are reports that Rodwell is in Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula and our operations are continuing in those areas,” Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.
He said he also saw a police photo of Rodwell holding a Philippine newspaper believed to have been taken last month from an unknown location.
“There is a photo of Rodwell holding a newspaper. It’s another proof of life, but we don’t know his condition now,” he said.
by: Mindanao Examiner
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