BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 29, 2008) – Abu Sayyaf militants have threatened to execute four kidnapped workers of a rural electric company in the southern Philippine island of Basilan unless ransom is paid.
The kidnappers are demanding two million pesos in exchange for the lives of the four hostages - brothers Alberto and Emilberto Singson; Paul Herowig and his brother Birin – all workers of the Basilan Electric Cooperative Inc.
The Abu Sayyaf freed one hostage, Ronnie Tansiung, last week in Tuburan town where the five had been kidnapped June 26 while reading electric meters. The kidnappers originally demanded one million pesos, but raised their demand after private negotiators sought the release of the hostages.
Alfredo Oyao, the victims' manager, said they cannot afford to pay any ransom and appealed to the kidnappers to free all the victims unharmed.
Police and military blamed the Abu Sayyaf and rogue members of the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front as behind the latest kidnapping. It tagged Nurhasan Jamiri and Furuji Indama as among those who seized the workers.
Basilan island Governor Jum Akbar, head of the local crisis management committee, has designated her deputy Alrashid Sakalahul, to negotiate for the safe release of the four workers.
“Governor Akbar has instructed all the mayors in Basilan province, including her deputy and religious leaders to seek the safe release of the poor victims. We are all concerned for the safety of the hostages,” Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, the island’s police chief, told the Mindanao Examiner.
A faction of the Abu Sayyaf last month kidnapped an ABS-CBN television presenter Ces Drilon and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, including a Muslim university professor Octavio Dinampo, in nearby Sulu province. They were freed a week later in exchange for a huge ransom.
Philippine military chief Alexander Yano said the Abu Sayyaf, which was originally fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state in Mindanao, had been reduced to being a bandit group.
But the United States tagged the Abu Sayyaf group as a foreign terrorist organization with links to the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. (Mindanao Examiner)