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SABAH KIDNAPPING: Philippine authorities shocked by huge ransom demand
Publication Date : 11-04-2014
Philippine authorities are shocked over reports of a demand for 500 million pesos (US$11.2 million) for the release of a Chinese tourist abducted from a Semporna dive resort.
Armed Forces of Philippines Sulu province commander Brigadier General Martin Pinto said they were unaware of such a ransom demand.
“What? Is that correct,” was Pinto’s immediate response when informed about the ransom demand disclosed by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said a team had been dispatched to negotiate reducing the ransom with a “so called middle person”.
Pinto told The Star Philippine security forces had received word that Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipina resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, had been brought to Jolo island in the Sulu province.
“This is raw information which we are now verifying,” he said.
Eastern Sabah Security director general Mohammad Mantek and state Police Commissioner Hamza Taib declined to comment on the ransom, but other officials here believed the 36.4 million ringgit ($11.2 million) figure was just an“opening” gambit.
They said kidnappers would usually quote a “high” opening figure before agreeing to a lower amount.
They cited the case of of the two seaweed farm workers snatched from Pulau Sabangkat, also near Semporna, in Febuary 2010, whose abductors had demanded 60 million pesos (US$1.3 million).
However, the two workers were released after 1.5 million ringgit ($463,320) was believed to have been paid in ransom.
Meanwhile, Philippines-based NGO Alliance of Human Rights Advocates has voiced alarm over a spate of kidnappings in the Sulu province since February 17.
Its Mindanao coordinator Warina Sushil Jukuy said that about 50 people had been abducted over the three-month period.