On Target : Who keeps the public informed, the barber?

By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: June 14, 2008

Vice President Noli de Castro right in calling for only one negotiator in dealing with the kidnappers of ABS-CBN reporter/anchor Ces Drilon and her remaining cameraman.
The other cameraman was freed Thursday after a P2 million ransom was allegedly paid to the abductors.

De Castro, himself a former ABS-CBN broadcaster, apparently knows about what happened in past kidnapping cases when ransom was paid: some negotiators made more than the kidnappers by increasing the ransom demand for the victims.

The reason why many volunteered to act as negotiators is so they can make money in case a ransom is paid for the release of the famous broadcaster and her TV crew.

The rule of thumb in kidnap-for-ransom cases in Sulu is that any person who volunteers to act as go-between should never be trusted.

* * *

Many blame Ces Drilon for going into the lion’s den when she already knew her colleagues, Maan Macapagal and another ABS-CBN cameraman, were kidnapped years ago while covering the abduction of European and Malaysian hostages.

If Ces erred, it was on the side of doing a job well.

Journalists go to great lengths to get a story for their readers, viewers or listeners.

We should remember Ces and other reporters risked their lives covering the one-sided battle between government forces and a bunch of unarmed soldiers led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes III and detained Brig. Gen. Danny Lim at the Peninsula Hotel.

To journalists like Ces, any risk is worth taking to keep the public informed.

* * *

Why do journalists put their lives at risk covering dangerous events, people and places?

Asked why they embark on such a dangerous undertaking, a mountain climber once said: because the mountain is there.

In the same way, a journalist risks his life to get the news because it’s there.

But unlike the mountain climber, the journalist derives deep personal satisfaction in informing the public.

Deep personal satisfaction in informing the public more than makes up for a journalist’s low pay.

Although it’s a prestigious job, journalism is not a profession; it’s a vocation or calling like the priesthood.

Many young people want to become journalists, but most eventually leave because of the low pay and long working hours.

The few who remain are the hard-core types.

So the next time you blame a journalist for getting into trouble covering dangerous places, events and personalities, ask yourself this question: Who keeps the public informed, the neighborhood barber?

On Target : Ransom is big business in Sulu

By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: June 12, 2008

The latest world I heard from my sources in the intelligence community is that the kidnappers of Ces Drilon and her ABS-CBN news crew were asking for a P20-million ransom.
The management of ABS-CBN should be wary of some people who volunteered as negotiators; they could have raised the ransom demand of the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Christian and Moro negotiators in past kidnap-for-ransom incidents made more money than the kidnappers because they made tongpats, or increased the ransom demand and kept the difference.

For example, if the kidnappers demanded P5 million, the field negotiator would say that the ransom demand was P10 million.

The army or police brass, to whom the field negotiator passed on the ransom demand, plus his “commission” of P5 million, might up the ransom to P15 million.

The local officials in the area would naturally want a “piece of the action” and so the ransom demand would be increased to P20 million.

By the time the ransom demand reaches the relatives of the victims, it would be P30 million.

In areas where kidnapping is prevalent, you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys where the ransom demand is concerned. Both are bad.

Both have dirty hands.

* * *

Several years ago, during the negotiations for the release of the so-called Sipadan hostages, certain national and local officials, as well as military and police top brass, allegedly earned oodles and oodles of money.

How did they do these?

Simply by making “commissions” on the ransom demands of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers for each of the kidnap victims.

One of the negotiators was close to Erap, who was president at the time.

The negotiator reportedly became so rich from the millions of dollars in ransom for each of the Western hostages that there are reports he has now become a multimillionaire.

The Malaysian government paid only a small ransom for nine of its citizens who were among the kidnap victim because of Lepeng Wee, a Chinoy multi-millionaire from Zamboanga City who negotiated with the kidnappers on his own.

The Malaysian government had asked for the help of the Chinoy seaweeds tycoon.

But the rest of the 21 hostages, including 12 Europeans, were made to pay a huge ransom because some national and local officials and military men demanded more than what the kidnappers were asking.

Some negotiators hated the intruder Wee, who didn’t play their dirty game, because they could have earned additional ransom from the Malaysian kidnap victims.

For his effort, the Chinoy businessman was honored in Malaysia by the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.

And the corrupt government negotiators? They laughed all the way to the bank.

* * *

From now on, media people should be wary in seeking exclusive interviews with Abu Sayyaf bandits because they just can’t be trusted.

Despite what the government says to the contrary, there is bad blood between Christians and some Muslims.
The animosity dates back to the time of the Crusades during the Middle Ages.

There are accounts of how this hatred has resulted in the defiling of Christian women by some fundamentalists, a form of complete subjugation.

A nun whom the Abu Sayyaf bandits kidnapped in Sulu in the past was allegedly raped repeatedly.

Fundamentalists could never have a peaceful co-existence with Christians because of that “holy war” many centuries ago.



2 Responses to “On Target : Ransom is big business in Sulu”

  1. Pam Protano Says:

    I don’t really have a great deal to express in reply, I only this minute wanted to comment to say great work. It looks like you have put a lot of effort into your post and we require much more of these on the net nowadays.


  2. Ra Says:

    nothing more than bandits robbers brigands rapists using religion as a shield


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