Pull back troops, negotiators ask
DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will recommend that security forces pull back their units in the area in Sulu where the three foreigners and Filipino kidnapped from Samal Island last Sept 21 were supposedly brought.
Moro National Liberation Front spokesman Absalom Cerveza said Duterte will make the request to allow MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari to negotiate for the release of the victims.
At the same time, the Philippine National Police said on Saturday they have identified some of the kidnappers who abducted Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Filipino Maritess Flor from the Ocean View Resort in Samal Island.
Last week, a crisis management committee was formed in Sulu, composed of military, police and local government officials, to map out options to resolve the kidnapping.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said the crisis committee is headed by local government executives in Sulu.
“The goal and the formation of a crisis committee is to address the kidnapping issue in Sulu and a local executive preside over it,” Padilla said.
Should the government agree to the proposal, Cerveza said Misuari will be providing the necessary logistics and provisions to MNLF members to negotiate with the kidnappers for the eventual release of their victims.
“Misuari wants to just arrest the kidnappers without bloodshed and secure the victims release without ransom,” Cerveza said.
Cerveza quoted Misuari as saying the kidnappers were not ASG members, but an organized crime syndicate acting for a still undetermined group.
One of the kidnappers has reportedly an ax to grind against Ridsdel, the president of TVI Minerals Processing Inc., which is currently mining Surigao del Sur and Davao province, after retrenching some workers in the firm.
The ASG, Cerveza said were not directly responsible in the kidnapping but merely acting as custodians of the victims.
However, no specific demand yet has been issued by the ASG for the release of the kidnap victims.
For his part, PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said they have already identified some of the kidnappers, but declined to reveal the names.
Marquez also said they have produced digital composite sketches which were shown to witnesses, who positively identified them.