Philippine TV presenter freed

Nine-day ordeal ends shortly after expiry of deadline for $337,000 ransom demand.

    Drilon is an anchorwoman for ABS-CBN, the
    country's largest television network [EPA]

    He said the three "looked fine" and had been picked up from a village in the southern island of Jolo, but would not say if ransom money changed hands.

     

    Goltiao said Drilon and the others were being taken to Isnaji Alvarez, the mayor of Jolo's Indanan town, who had been negotiating for their release.

     

    Their kidnappers, members of the Abu Sayyaf group, were understood to have demanded about $1.12 million in ransom for Drilon and her two colleagues, setting a Tuesday deadline and threatening to behead them if this was not met.

     

    The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for the country's worst attacks as well as for kidnappings of Western tourists and Christian missionaries.

     

    Beheading threat

     

    The Tuesday ultimatum was given after military reinforcements despatched to Jolo at the weekend shelled a forested area, targeting the Abu Sayyaf fighters.

     

    Loren Legarda, a senator and a friend of Drilon, told ABS-CBN in an interview that she secretly negotiated for the release of the hostages.

     

    Forces despatched to the island of Jolo shelled
    Abu Sayyaf positions recently [GALLO/GETTY]

    "I appealed, I cajoled, I threatened by telephone," she said.

     

    Legarda said the kidnappers were "pressured" by her unspecified local contacts into freeing the three.

     

    "These people do not have an ideology. This is pure banditry," she said.

     

    Drilon, her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, and Octavio Dinampo, the academic, were heading to a secret meeting with a senior leader of Abu Sayyaf when they were seized on June 8.

     

    Valderama was freed on June 12 after 100,000 pesos (about $2,250) was paid.

     

    A spokesman for Gloria Arroyo, the Philippine president, praised the Jolo officials who worked for the television crew's release for their "steadfast and excellent handling" of the kidnapping, but made no reference to the ransom demand.

     

    In a separate incident, armed men raided a rural village in the southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday, taking more than two dozen villagers with them, but the hostages were later freed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?