2 suspects investigated for possible involvement in Samal abduction

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 October) — Two suspects in the kidnapping of three foreigners and a Filipina in Samal Island, Davao del Norte last Sept. 21 have been placed under investigation after they were arrested at 11 p.m. Sunday in Davao City.

Police identified the suspects as Bandajar Dangin Adona, 38, a resident of Pantukan in Compostela Valley and Tirso Lugnasin, 40, of the same province.

In a press conference Wednesday at a hotel here, Supt. Antonio Rivera, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 said Adona and Lugnasin were arrested in Tibungco, Davao City by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Adona has an outstanding warrant for kidnapping, serious illegal detention and murder charges issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 3 of Compostela Valley.

Rivera said they could not confirm if any of the arrested suspects were really involved in the abduction, although he was told that one of them bears resemblance to the kidnapper whose face was caught on closed circuit television camera or CCTV.

Authorities were reviewing the CCTV footage.

In a press briefing held at the PRO 11office days after the incident, Chief Supt. Federico Dulay Jr. said they had submitted the CCTV footage for enhancement to the Philippine National Police’s Cybercrime Division.

On the same day, authorities released a composite sketch of one of the suspects based on the description given by couple Steven and Kazuka Tripp who managed to jump off the yacht after resisting the kidnappers.

The suspect was described as male, between 25 to 30 years old, medium built, dark, and between 5’2 and 5’3 in height.

Dulay, chief of the Special Investigation Task Group, said he is trying to establish the possible involvement of the two in the incident.

The arrest would help unmask the group behind the kidnapping if it could be proven that the suspects were involved in it, he said.

He said police filed criminal charges against Adona and Lugnasin for violation of Republic Act No. 10591, an “act providing for a comprehensive law on firearms and ammunition” as they were allegedly in possession of illegal firearms and explosives when they were arrested.

“Ang existing warrant arrest has nothing to do with the Samal kidnapping. We are trying our best kung sino ang involved dito, ang group responsible for the incident,” he clarified.

Rivera said they could not confirm whether the abductors and the hostages are now in Sulu, contrary to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s statement to media that they were taken there by a group believed to have links to the Abu Sayyaf.

As of Wednesday, the abductors have neither made contacts with authorities nor issued any statement on the condition of the victims, namely: Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian; Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50; and Hall’s Filipina partner Maritess Flor.

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. He is also a member of the board of rustees for 2015-2016 of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.

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. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)