MANILA, Philippines -- Television reporter Ces Drilon and her crew who police said were abducted by local terror group Abu Sayyaf were "alive and well" and being treated fairly by their captors, an official said Tuesday.
"Pinapakain naman sila [They are being fed well], they are well and alive, hindi sila nakatali [they are not tied] and nakakalabas sila [they are able to move around] but they are being escorted," Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview, citing reports from the crisis management team formed to negotiate with Drilon?s captors.
Goltiao said that the ABS-CBN news team was intercepted Sunday in Maimbung, a township in the Sulu capital Jolo, by armed men under Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf leader in the area and Gapur Jundain, a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front who recently joined Abu Sayyaf.
Goltiao also denied reports circulating in website forums that Professor Octavio Dinampo of the Mindanao State University, who was also reported missing, along with Drilon and her crew, had been released.
"Hindi namin ma-confirm hangga't hindi namin nakikita [But we cannot confirm until we see him]...and we are more into Ces Drilon because we are still checking if he [Dinampo] is also a victim or whether he is in cahoots with the abductors," said Goltiao, adding that they were sure that the Abu Sayaff was behind the abduction.
Police Director General Avelino Razon meanwhile said they were verifying reports that the group had asked for ransom ranging from P10 million to P30 million.
But Razon clarified that these reports came from unofficial sources and were relayed to ABS-CBN, the network where Drilon and her crew Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama work for.
"The reports are very unclear at this point in time...and meron ibang sinabi ang [there are things that] ABS-CBN sa amin [told us] that we are not at liberty to reveal," Razon told reporters in Camp Crame.
"We are still verifying the information we got but because of the sensitivity of the situation, we are not to reveal details yet," said Razon, noting that police and even military units are conducting search operations.
Although Razon refused to call the situation a kidnapping, he has ordered the Intelligence Group and the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response, a police unit specializing in abductions, to join the operation in locating and saving Drilon and her team.
Razon added that they were also investigating the whereabouts of Dinampo.
"We are monitoring and following up, also the verification of status on Ces Drilon and two other members believed to be somewhere in Sulu. That is as far as the details we could give," added Razon.