President of mining firm among 3 foreigners kidnapped in Samal

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 September) – Armed men on board two pumpboats stormed a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte late Monday night, abducted a Filipina and three foreigners, including the president of a mining firm, and sped off towards the direction of Pantukan in Compostela Valley, authorities said.

Abducted at around 11:30 p.m. Monday from the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort in Barangay Camudmud, Babak district in Samal, the prime tourist destination of Davao del Norte, were Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian, and Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68 and Robert Hall, 50, and Hall’s Filipina partner identified as Tess.

Ridsdel is President of TVI Minerals Processing, Inc., a firm providing mineral mining services, with main office in Pasig City but with business interests in Mindanao.

Courtesy of EastMinCom
Photo courtesy of EastMinCom

The Government of Canada, in a statement e-mailed Monday night to MindaNews by Nicolas Doire, spokesperson of the Media Relations Office of the Public Affairs Branch of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development department, said it is “aware of reports that Canadian citizens were kidnapped in the Philippines” and that it is “pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information.”

“The Government of Canada will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts and risk endangering the safety of Canadian citizens abroad,” the statement read.

Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao Commander Rafael Mariano was quoted as saying the kidnappers’ boats was headed towards the direction of Pantukan in Compostela Valley.

“More or less 11 armed men”

Samal Chief of Police Benedicto Frias Faco, quoting a spot report said that at 11:45 p.m. Monday, Cheena Jala Canencia, the officer-in-charge of Holiday Oceanview Resort, personally appeared at the police station and reported the forcible abduction of foreigner-guests of the resort.

The report noted that initial police investigation showed that at around 11:23 p.m. Monday night, “more or less 11 men, wearing civilian attire with backpack and bandolier, armed with two long firearms and short firearms, on board two motorized bancas docked at the resort.”

An ABS-CBN report Monday night showed CCTV footage of unmasked armed men as they were forcing their victims to board the boats. The report also quoted a police official as saying the armed men spoke “fluent English and Tagalog.”

Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 spokesperson Superintendent Antonio Rivera said the suspects on board two boats docked at the resort and forcibly took the victims.

Rivera said some of the armed men even barged into the yacht of the couple Steven and Kazuka Tripp but the two fought back and managed to escape.

The couple was rushed to Davao del Norte Hospital-Samal Zone after sustaining head injuries.

Photo courtesy of Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) police
Photo courtesy of Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) police

Rivera also said that the resort security, Alfie Monoy recovered at around 4 a.m. a handwritten note at the entrance gate some 500 meters away from the docking area that allegedly stated, “katarungan ng aming commander by: NPA” (Justice of our commander by: New Peoples’ Army).

The NPA, historically, does not leave behind handwritten notes but issues formal statements and sends these to media outlets to announce or deny it perpetrated an act.

Task Group Oceanview

The Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office has set up Special Investigation Task Group Oceanview to conduct an in-depth investigation on the incident.

In a separate phone interview Tuesday, Capt. Alberto Caber, chief of the Public Information Office (PIO) and spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), told MindaNews joint forces from the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao. Philippine Coast Guard and 10th Infantry Division have already been deployed to investigate and conduct pursuit operations to assist the local police.

In a text message sent to the media, Samal mayor Aniano Antalan urged beach resort owners in Samal to beef up security measures to ensure the safety of the visitors, encouraging them to install high definition closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) and equip their security guards.

After the kidnapping, Antalan said there is a need to improve the security measures in the island city.

Araceli Ayuste, president of the Davao del Norte Provincial Tourism Council emphasized the need for resort operators to put in place a communication network as part of the security mitigating measures during crisis situations.

2nd in 14 years

Ridsdel, according to his linked in account, is President of the TVI Minerals Processing, Inc., a firm that provides mineral mining services. According to BloombergBusiness’ website, the company, a subsidiary of TVI International Marketing Limited, engages in mining of Copper, Silver, Zinc, Gold, and other minerals.

The company is based in Pasig City. Before that, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Executive officer of the TVI Resource Development from August 2008 to April 2011. TVIRD, which first operated a gold and silver mine in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, is the Philippine affiliate of TVI Pacific, Inc., a publicly listed Canadian mining company focused on the exploration and production of precious and base metals from district-scale, large-system, high-margin projects located in the Philippines.

It was the second abduction incident in 14 years in Samal, but the first, in May 2011 at the Pearl Farm resort, was foiled by alert security guards. The attack was allegedly perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group. Two employees were killed while three others were injured. (Carolyn O. Arguillas and Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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