Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/06/08MANILA1460.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1460
2008-06-18 08:47
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2065
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1460/01 1700847
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180847Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1041
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001460

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2018
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS PHUM RP
SUBJECT: BROADCAST JOURNALIST FREED BY KIDNAPPERS

REF: MANILA 1399 (TOP BROADCAST JOURNALIST ABDUCTED
IN MINDANAO)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Kidnappers have released well-known broadcast
journalist Ces Drilon and three members of her crew, after 10
days of captivity on Jolo Island. Drilon and her colleagues
were abducted on June 8 on Jolo Island in southern Mindanao.
While most media sources and government officials have
publicly suggested that the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group was
behind the kidnapping, several military and police sources
believe that a less-sophisticated kidnap-for-ransom criminal
gang and, surprisingly, a town mayor are more likely the
masterminds of this particular operation. In any event, the
Philippine public is celebrating the hostages’ safe release
in this high-profile kidnapping. Philippine Armed Forces
Chief of Staff General Yano told the Ambassador that with the
resolution of this kidnapping incident the armed forces can
resume operations against high-value terrorist targets put on
hold by the hostage drama. END SUMMARY.

———————————-
Drilon and Other Hostages Released
———————————-

¶2. (U) Late in the evening of June 17, ABS-CBN television
reporter Ces Drilon, ABS-CBN cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, and
Drilon’s guide, peace advocate and Mindanao State University
professor Octavio Dinampo, were released after 10 days in
captivity as hostages on Jolo Island (reftel). The
award-winning broadcast journalist and her crew were abducted
on June 8 in an isolated area of Jolo Island, in southern
Mindanao, while reportedly en route to interview wanted
terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Radulan Sahiron.
After the kidnappers released the hostages, Drilon,
Encarnacion, and Dinampo were transferred to Zamboanga where
they were met by relatives and colleagues and then remained
overnight for medical checks and lengthy interviews with
police investigators. The fourth hostage, another ABS-CBN
cameraman, Angelo Valderama, was released by the kidnappers
on June 12.

———————–
Twisted Web of Suspects
———————–

¶3. (C) While the media and others continue to point fingers
toward the terrorist ASG, several intelligence and military
sources believe that a less sophisticated kidnap-for-ransom
criminal gang is likely responsible for Drilon’s kidnapping.
Police have not ruled out the ASG, well-known for its
kidnapping and extortion activities, but investigators are
presently focused on the kidnappers’ chosen negotiator,
Indanan mayor Alvarez Isnaji, a former MNLF commander with
established links to ASG and criminal operatives on Jolo
Island, who is also an announced candidate for governor in
the upcoming Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections.

¶4. (C) Police investigators closely monitored Isnaji’s
negotiations with the kidnappers throughout the 10-day
ordeal. On June 18, following the release of the hostages,
the police unexpectedly arrested Isnaji and his son, Heider
Isnaji, for their alleged involvement in the kidnappings.
Other suspects have reportedly been identified by Drilon and
the other hostages; however, it remains unclear whether this
was the work of the ASG terrorists or a criminal gang
affiliated with Mayor Isnaji.

¶5. (C) Government officials, including Philippine National
Police Chief Razon, have publicly denied that any ransom
payment or concession was made to the kidnappers; however,
several police and military sources have told us that a
payment of 15 million pesos (approximately $337,000 USD) was
made immediately prior to Drilon’s release. Similarly, these
police and military sources also believe a 5 million peso
(approximately $112,000 USD) ransom was also paid to secure
the early release of cameraman Angelo Valderama on June 12.
Indanan mayor Isnaji allegedly facilitated both payments and
then escorted the hostages to his home, where they were met
by police and military escorts.

——————————————— —
Military to Increase Tactical Operations on Jolo
——————————————— —

¶6. (C) During a June 18 discussion with the Ambassador,
Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano

MANILA 00001460 002 OF 002

noted that the hostage crisis had diverted significant
military resources and attention from the military’s main
goal of tracking and engaging terrorist targets. With
Drilon’s release, the military would now be able to re-engage
in this key task.

——————————————— ———–
Kidnappings Lucrative for Terrorists and Criminals Alike
——————————————— ———–

¶7. (C) Zamboanga City Prosecutor Ricardo Cabaron expressed
concern to us on June 17 that the payments of similar
high-value ransoms in recent months has only empowered young
kidnapping groups in southern Mindanao. In a similar, albeit
less high-profile, May 27 kidnapping of Zamboanga businessman
Inocente Bautista, the family of the hostage reportedly paid
10 million pesos to kidnappers in order to secure his
release. Cabaron noted that these kidnappers were far less
sophisticated in their methods than seen in earlier years, an
indication that more criminal groups may be capitalizing on
kidnap-for-ransom operations as a source of income. Cabaron
expressed grave concern that these kidnap-for-ransom groups
will continue to operate in Zamboanga and the Sulu
Archipelago without more successful investigations and
prosecutions of the kidnappers. Cabaron recently filed
criminal charges against seven suspects in the May 27
kidnapping of the Zamboanga businessman and hopes that
similar charges will materialize for the masterminds of Ces
Drilon’s kidnapping.

KENNEY

   

 

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