DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /18 Sept) – The Norwegian national who was kidnapped from a resort he managed in the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21 last year is finally home from Sulu, where he spent nearly a year in captivity and was freed September 17.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the freed Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, took off from Jolo in Sulu at 2:30 p.m.
Sekkingstad will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte at 7 p.m. at the Matina Enclaves Clubhouse here.
Three other kidnap victims, all Indonesian nationals, were freed Sunday and were flown to Zamboanga City for turnover to officials of the Indonesian Embassy.
Sekkingstad, who was kidnapped with two Canadian nationals and a Filipina on September 21 last year was freed in Patikul, Sulu at around 2 p.m. Saturday, September 17, four days short of one year since their abduction.
In a statement on Saturday, Dureza said Sekkingstad was spending the night “at the place of MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) Chairman Nur Misuari in Barangay Kagay who volunteered to host his stay due to heavy rains and nightfall.”
Dureza said “men of Misuari and former Governor Sakur Tan and other volunteers helped in the release.”
Misuari, founding chair of the MNLF, is deemed a fugitive as warrants of arrest have been issued against him and 59 others on charges of rebellion and violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 104 persons dead, 192 injured and 110,000 of its 807,000 population displaced.
In July, Dureza said “we cannot yet deal with him (Misuari) officially because technically, he is still a fugitive.”
He said Misuari’s lawyers were contemplating on having his cases reviewed and see if that review will lead to a suspension of the effects of the warrant.
“We will wait until that procedure is complied with. Only when the warrant is no longer in the way (can this) proceed accordingly,” he said.
Dureza said Sekkingstad’s first words to him on the phone was “Thank you to President Duterte.”
Dureza said Sekkingstad’s release from captivity capped months of “quiet, patient but determined efforts with the assistance of all sectors.”
Armed men on board two pumpboats stormed the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort in Barangay Camudmud, Babak district in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte at around 11:30 p.m. on September 21, 2015 and abducted at gunpoint four persons – Sekkingstad, 56, Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68 and Robert Hall, 50, and Hall’s Filipina partner, Marites Flor, 38.
Ridsdel was President of TVI Minerals Processing, Inc., a firm providing mineral mining services, with main office in Pasig City but with business interests in Mindanao.
Ridsdel was executed by the Abu Sayyaf on April 25 and Robert Hall, Flor’s fiancé, on June 13 for non-payment of P300 million ransom.
Flor was dropped off by her captors in front of the residence of former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan at around 4:30 a.m. on June 24 and was presented to then President-electDuterte onstage at the Davao City Police Office parade grounds nearly 12 hours later, after the turnover of command from chief of police, Sr. Supt. Vicente Danao, Jr. to Sr. Supt. Michael John Dubria.
Duterte last month ordered the military and police to seek out the Abu Sayyaf and destroy them, the fifth Philippine President to attempt to do so.
The President issued the search and destroy order hours after the terrorist group was reported to have beheaded 18-year old Patrick James Almodovar, son of a court stenographer, for failing to pay a million peso ransom.
Duterte initially thought it was the Norwegian victim, Sekkingstad, who was beheaded because if he were, “I would accuse now the Abu Sayyaf of in utter bad faith. Binayaran na yan sila” (They were already paid), he said, citing the figure P50,000 but later corrected to P50 million pesos. Who paid the amount, he did not say.
Dureza told MindaNews Saturday night that no ransom was paid for the release of Sekkingstad.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andar told radio station DZRB in Manila on Sunday that government maintains a no-ransom policy.
“Now, kung meron mang nagbigay na third party kung iyong pamilya nagbigay, hindi namin alam iyon. Basta the government maintains a no-ransom policy pagdating sa mga kidnappings” (Now, if there is a third party or the family paid ransom, we don’t know that. But the government maintains a no-ransom policy when it comes to kidnappings).
Andanar said the war against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists will not stop despite the release of Sekkingstad. (MindaNews)