Two weeks after the Samal kidnapping, no word from kidnappers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 October) – Two weeks after the Sept. 21 kidnapping of three foreigners and a Filipina from a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte, there is still no word from the kidnappers, no demand for ransom, no negotiations, no proof of life of the victims, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said.

The proof of life, he said will be known during negotiations. “It doesn’t come to fore unless there is a negotiation and there is a demand for a proof of life,” Duterte, chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) said in his weekly television program, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” aired Sunday morning.

“Tanang branches of services including the intelligence community would confirm naa na sila sa Jolo (All branches of services, including the intelligence community, would confirm they are already in Jolo),” Duterte said.

The Canadian and Norwegian embassies, he said, called up last Monday to seek his help in recovering Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian, and Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50, who were abducted along with Hall’s Filipina partner Maritess Flor, from the Holiday Oceanview Resort in Samal nearly midnight of September 21.

“‘We trust that you will do everything, Mayor Duterte,” the mayor quoted the ambassadors as saying.

“The least I could do is to say yes if I can help… that I will do my very best,” he replied.

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 Trustees for 2015-2016 of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. Sekkingstad was the resort’s operations manager.

But Duterte had earlier said the foreigners could not have been pre-determined targets and that the kidnapping had nothing to do with Ridsdel’s being president of a mining firm.

Aside from the four, the suspects tried to take Steven and Kazuka Tripp on board a yacht but the two managed to escape.

The mayor reiterated the government’s no ransom policy.

Duterte went to Zamboanga on September 26, 2015 to help find a way to secure the release of the kidnap victims. That same day, supporters of Duterte gathered at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila urging him to run for President in 2016.

In his presentation during the RPOC meeting on Wednesday, Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, chief of the Regional Operations and Plans Division of PRO 11, said Jonathan M. Banggat, the resort’s security guard, who was manning his post at around 11 p.m. on Sept. 21, went near the berthing area after he heard a commotion some 100 meters away and saw the victims held at gunpoint being taken to the two motorized speedboats docked at the marina.

A day after the incident, authorities released a composite sketch, describing one of the suspects as male, between 25 to 30 years old, medium built, dark, and between 5’2 to 5’3 in height, based on Tripps’ description. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)