DAVAO CITY -- Mayor Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that the kidnappers and the three foreigners and one Filipina who were abducted in the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21 are now in Jolo, Sulu.
In his weekly program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” Duterte said that authorities verified the kidnappers’ location from different sources.
"We verified from all sources, naa na sila sa Jolo (We verified from all sources and that they are in Jolo)," Duterte said.
He said that for two days, they had no lead as to where the kidnappers have gone. It was not until September 24 when the intelligence committee reported sightings of the kidnappers in Glan, Sarangani, and then later in Jolo, Sulu.
Duterte said he was the first one to alert authorities on the incident after the owner of the Ocean View Resort called him for help. But he immediately endorsed the concern to the police and military authorities and the local government of Igacos, although they were in constant touch until the morning after.
Throughout that night, Duterte said that the kidnappers apparently tried to mislead the authorities as to where they’re going. But after the authorities realized that they were being led to a decoy, the Navy was called in.
He also confirmed that the kidnap group is allied with the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf.
Duterte said there had been no demands for ransom yet.
He added that he is clueless as to the motive behind the kidnapping, adding they are still set to verify if it was connected to mining.
"Wala. Far-out theory. Dili man namo na ma-trace, the mining is in a different place, nganong naa man diri (That cannot be verified). And if natsambahan lang jud (If it was just by coincidence that the targets turned out to be in mining), that we have to find out," Duterte said.
He denied that he offered to exchange himself with the hostages in the manner hinted at by Malacanang when it denied such offer. But he said he considered that option right after the victims were seized to slow down the suspects.
"Dili didto. Kadtong ga-gukdanay pa mi’g asa sila. Gibuhat naman nako kini kaniadto. I was a hostage once upon a time, naay nagbreak out, nipuga ang mga priso sa Davao Penal Colony (Not now when the kidnappers are already in their bailiwick. What I meant was during the pursuit. I did that before. I offered myself as hostage in exchange for the hostages taken by prisoners at the Davao Penal Colony)," he said.
In 1989, when a group of prisoners led by one Felipe Pugoy took hostage a truckful of children and employees of the Davao Prison and Penal Farm or Dapecol, Duterte offered himself as hostage instead and it led to the release of the original hostages.
It also led to the successful surrender of the hostage-takers, but which still ended in tragedy when three months later, Pugoy again held hostage 17 members of the Joyful Assembly of God during a Protestant prayer service at the detention center of the Davao City Police Office, then known as Metropolitan District Command. After two days of standoff, 21 people, including five hostages, 16 prisoners, and Pugoy were killed.
Duterte said Sunday that he can readily offer himself as hostage as the kidnappers fled, since they cannot get anything from him.
"Unsa man makuha nila kung patyon ko nila (What will they get even when they kill me)?" Duterte said.
He said that he went to Zamboanga to check how operations are going and show concern.
"Labong naa akong amigo na sila Misuari, edi adto nalang ko, magsuroy-suroy. Akoy ihawon nila sige (Anyway, my friend Nur Misuari is supposed to be there, and so I will just visit, I will go around. They can kill me if they want)," Duterte said.
He advised everyone to just wait for developments.
He also assured that the military is on top of the investigation and he is only keeping close tabs with the progress.
Duterte said there was no request to intervene and negotiate but he had sent a word asking if he can go there in the area.
"I've already sent a word if I can go there, and get the hostages. I just hope they will not demand a high ransom. Anyway, if the kidnappers intend to hold the hostage, then I am asking them not to hold the hostage for long. Don't hold on to them for a year because the military will have to launch an operation and the place will again be in chaos," he said in vernacular.
Duterte also denied that the incident was meant to ruin his reputation as Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chair, saying the RPOC is but an advisory group that has no executive power. (Sun.Star Davao)