PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Thus ordered President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in connection with locating and securing the “missing group” of broadcast journalist Cecilia Victoria Ces Oreña-Drilon in Sulu.
Reports by the Associated Press said that armed men seized the ABS-CBN news team of Drilon, Jimmy Encarcnacion and Angelo Valderama from a car in Maimbung town in Jolo island Sunday after arriving Saturday.
Drilon’s group were dispatched to the island to cover an event upon the invitation of Prof. Octavio Dinampo of Mindanao State University.
Jun Mantawil, who is head of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel and secretariat, claimed the group has already confirmed that Drilon were kidnapped by an Abu Sayyaf sub leader Gafur Gumbahali in Kulasi village in Maimbung town Sunday morning.
Gafur happens to be the brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Dr. Abu Jumdail Gumbahali, it was learned.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said the President also tasked the PNP and the military to exhaust all means to identify Drilon’s abductors “in the soonest possible time.”
Fajardo stressed that the recovery of Drilon is urgent since it could give bad signal since Drilon is a very popular figure in the country.
“So hindi natin pababayaan na magpabaya ang ating mga opisyal dito,” Fajardo said
Fajardo did not discount the possibility that Drilon was indeed abducted although reports claimed she and her group is “only missing”.
For his part, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez condemned the kidnapping of Drilon’s group 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.
He said the AFP is expected to share any available intelligence that would lead to the capture and arrests of those involved in the crime.
“We also urged the people in the community to cooperate with the authorities in reporting anything that would lead to the solution of the case,”Golez said.
The ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. earlier confirmed that Drilon and two cameramen were “missing” in the province of Sulu.