“The President has already instructed the PNP and the military to exhaust all means para makita sino ang abductor ni Ces Drilon the soonest possible time. This can give a bad signal because si Ms. Drilon is a very popular figure in the country. So hindi nating pababayaan na magpabaya ang ating mga opisyal dito,” said Lorelei Fajardo, deputy presidential spokesperson.
(The President has already instructed the PNP and the military to exhaust all means to identify the abductor of Ces Drilon. This can give a bad signal because Ms. Drilon is a very popular figure in the country. So we will not let our officials go easy on this case.)
Asked if authorities are now considering the incident as that of a kidnapping case, Fajardo said: “Hindi naman, an initial report is that she is still missing…but of course, hindi natin pwedeng alisin and possibility na maaaring kidnapping ito.”
(Not exactly…the initial report is that she is still missing. But of course, we cannot rule out the possibility that they were kidnapped.)
For his part, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said: “We condemn the kidnapping of the journalist and some media men while covering a story in Sulu. This act must not go without punishment and we have ordered the PNP to investigate, run after the perpetrators and bring back the victims alive and well.”
Golez said the AFP “is expected to share any available intelligence that would lead to the capture and arrests of those involved in this crime.”
“We also urge the people in the community to cooperate with the authorities and report anything that would lead to the solution (of the case),” he added.
Earlier in the day, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. confirmed reports that its Drilon and two cameramen went missing in the province of Sulu.
â€œThree ABS-CBN journalists Ces Drilon, Jimmy Encarnacion, and Angelo Valderama are missing in Sulu,” an ABS-CBN statement said.
“All efforts are underway to find them and bring them home. Until we learn more details, ABS-CBN News requests other media to report on this matter with utmost consideration for the safety of our news team,” it added.
Also on Tuesday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the abduction of three journalists in Sulu.
“We are deeply concerned for the safety of these three journalists,” Bob Dietz, CPJâ€™s Asia program coordinator, said.
“It is great cause for concern that this volatile southern region of the Philippines remains insecure for the press, and we call on local authorities to work diligently to secure their safe and swift release,” he added.
Armed men seized the three journalists from a car in Maimbung town on Jolo island on Sunday morning, according to The Associated Press.
The news team had arrived Saturday to cover an event at the invitation of Professor Octavio Dinampo of Mindanao State University, news reports said.
The Mindanao Peopleâ€™s Caucus released a statement condemning the abduction of Dinampo, the head of their organization, who they described as a peace advocate.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), for its part, offered to monitor the whereabouts of Drilon’s group and work for their release as well.
The MILF said a special group had been formed for the task, headed by an MILF political officer the group did not identify.
Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF peace panel secretariat, said the group has so far learned that Drilon’s group were kidnapped by an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Gafur Gumbahali in Kulasi village in Maimbung town Sunday morning.
The report said Gafur is the brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Dr. Abu Jumdail Gumbahali.