ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The kidnappers of a 56-year-old clerk at a government-run university here have demanded a P20-million ransom, the military said.
Meanwhile, another group of kidnappers belonging to the Abu Sayyaf remained silent on what it wanted for documentary filmmakers Nadjoua and Linda Bansil, whom they abducted in Sulu on June 22.
In the case of Alrasid Rojas, a clerk at the Western Mindanao State University here, Colonel Andrelino Colina, commander of the military-led Task Force Zamboanga, said the abductors made the demand on Monday by calling one of the victim’s children.
“In fact, that particular child of the victim’s managed to talk to him over the phone,” he said.
Colina would not confirm the military was using a tracking device to locate Rojas but he said the call was traced from “the vicinity of Luuk, Sulu.”
Rojas, who was assigned at the WMSU’s Islamic Studies department, was forcibly taken from his house on Amping Drive in Barangay (village) Campo Islam here by about a dozen men wearing military uniforms.
He resisted the kidnapping but the kidnappers, whose identities remained unclear to this day, beat him, Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, city police director, said.
The police chief said police had leads on the identities of the kidnappers “based on the testimonies provided by the witnesses during the abduction.”
De Ocampo said the initial police theory was that Rojas’ abduction had something to do with his “relationship” with colleagues at the university.
“We see it more as work related. First, the victim is not wealthy even if he owns a small coffee shop at the public market. The coffee shop is not really making money,” he said.
In Sulu, meanwhile, amid the silence of the military and the police, Governor Abdusakur Tan said he had ordered an investigation of all individuals associated with the Bansil sisters, including the 19 members of their party.
Tan said the 19 members of the Bansil sisters’ party had to explain why they had some of the victims’ belongings.
For example, Tan said the siblings’ guide, Yasir Rajim, got their mobile phones, camera and other personal gadgets.
Rajim is allegedly the spokesperson of Mauzidin Bantilan, the supposed caretaker of the Sultanate of Sulu. Mauzidin’s claim had been denied by Abraham Idjirani, an aide to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of the military-led Joint Task Force Sulu, said authorities have been investigating Rajim who was also asked to turn over all the belongings of the victims.
Cenabre admitted that Rajim and some members of the Bansil sisters’ party have become suspects because they could not properly explain why they had the personal belongings of the victims.
Tan said he wanted Mauzidin to work for the release of the victims because he was the one responsible for their visit to Sulu.
The Bansil sisters were shooting a documentary on the defunct Sulu sultanate when abducted in Patikul town.
The Bansil family said they were at a loss over the fate of their kin because even authorities had not updated them as of Thursday.
“It has been five days since they were taken but not a single policeman came to us to ask us. We might be of help if they had approached us,” Medmessiah Bansil, brother of the victims told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Nadjoua, a respected filmmaker, was nominated at the Gawad Urian for her film, “Bohe, Sons of the Waves.”
Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu said he has been exerting effort to locate Nadjoua, whom he described as a close friend, and her sister Linda.
As of Thursday, authorities said they had no update on the negotiations being conducted by Sulu locals to secure the victims.