Coast Guard warns of new kidnap threats

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 January) — The Philippine Coast Guard on Wednesday said they have received reports of kidnapping threats by groups in Sulu directed at Samal Island and other areas in Mindanao like Surigao del Norte.

Speaking in Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press conference, PCG Southeastern Mindanao chief Commodore Joselito F. Dela Cruz said they will meet with the management of Holiday Oceanview Resort in Samal on Thursday morning to beef up security measures.

On Sept. 21 last year, suspected Abu Sayyaf members kidnapped three foreigners and a Filipina at the resort and took them to Sulu.

The victims were identified as Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian; Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50; and Hall’s Filipina partner Marites Flor.

Ridsdel is president of TVI Minerals Processing, with main office in Pasig City but with business interests in Mindanao. He is a member of the board of trustees for 2015-2016 of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc.

Captors demanded a P4-billion ransom for the four victims.

Despite the incident foreign visitors who own yachts continued to dock at the resort, dela Cruz noted.

He said they are planning to assign a patrol boat near the resort to ensure the safety of the foreign visitors.

He said the patrol team was stationed at Babak District but they are yet to move it to the northern part of Samal to monitor illegal fishing.

In the same press conference, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, denied reports the region has been infiltrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The 10th ID covers 1,681 barangays in Davao Region, parts of Region 12, Trento in Agusan del Sur and Lingig in Surigao del Sur.

Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of 1003rd Brigade, said local terrorist groups who claimed allegiance to ISIS might have done so to sow fear among the locals, although this should not be taken lightly.

“They might have taken advantage of this,” he said.

He encouraged the public to share information on the possible presence of terrorist groups.

Davao del Norte Tourism Council president Araceli Ayuste said resorts in Samal suffered a 50-percent decrease in occupancy rate two weeks after the kidnapping incident.

Ayuste, who owns Punta del Sol Resort, previously cited she had 15 bookings cancelled, roughly equivalent to P75,000 in revenue losses.

She said this is far worse than during the lean period from July to October when the occupancy rate in most resorts was at least 70 percent.

She said it was an unusual drop and the biggest in the history of Samal tourism because no rebookings have been made unlike in the past when there were typhoons that hit Davao Region.

The worst typhoon that ever hit the region in recent memory was “Pablo” in December 2012. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

  • FRIEND OF MINDANAO.

    It is time the true Philippine people voted in a serious uncorrupt Govt to deal with the moslem problem in Mindanao. Get at the source of terror activity by removing the vast majority of mozlem from the Philippine’s territory. Close down and demolish all mosques. Out law the religion of islam. It is the core teaching of islam thast is behind the ongoing war in Mindanao. Take back the islands of Basilan Sulu Jolo, etc from Mozlem occupation.
    This is the only way to peace in Mindanao. No mozlems no terror. No mozlems no war. No mozlems no die. Non mozlems no cry.

    • Alena Louise Magkilat

      I don’t think that’s the answer. Not all muslims are like that

      • Bethelyn Dela Pena

        Love of money is root of all evil..its all about money..it the philippines corup gov. Couse all this..if they provide descent leaving,food,job non of this will happen.

  • CONGRATULATIONS

    You can scream and shout all you like but that won’t get the prisoners out. Clearly the Filipino employer is responsible for the Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad BUT what are they doing except counting lost revenue? Everytime soemthing is written about John Ridsdel being president of TVI Minerals Processing, that just publicizes how rich and famous he may be. Robert Hall and his Filipina partner Marites Flor is a fascinating scenario. On her own she would be of no $$$$$$$$ value BUT what if the kidnap goes on for so long that she falls pregnant to anyone of the men around her? If Robert Hall owned a yacht, couldn’t that be sold/ I kid you not.

    • garyvancouver

      Robert Hall’s “Yacht” is a 36 foot sailboat, with a value of maybe 100,000 – doesn’t even fit the description of a yacht. The murderers turned down a 500,000USD ransom for John. Robert has 13 days to live, unless the Philippine authorities make a serious effort – which will not happen.