Malacañang is steadfast on its no ransom policy, so we're not going to change that. But we hope that the local efforts there would succeed in order that we bring home safely these people who are being held against their will."This is in reference to an ultimatum issued by Abu Sayyaf leader Nur Hassan Jamiri, for a one million peso ransom payment by Tuesday (tomorrow) for the release of four Basilan Electric Cooperative linemen - two pairs of brothers Alberto and Emilberto Singson, and Paul and Ian Helwig--kidnapped last June 26 near Tuburan, Basilan. This was just a few weeks after ABSCBN News anchor Ces Drilon was ransomed for an acknowledged amount of 5 million pesos near Indanan, Sulu.
Of course, absolutely no credibility can possibly be accorded to a statement like this by Mr. Dureza considering the shameless record of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in paying off kidnappers for hostages like her billionaire buddy Reghis Romero during the infamous ASG Dos Palmas raid (10 million pesos) Angelo de la Cruz in Iraq ($6 million); her "peace negotiator," Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino (450,000 pesos for "board and lodging") in 2007 and Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi (12 million pesos?) in 2007.
Now some in the audience may think such payoffs are somehow worth it since undoubtedly the lives of the above mentioned persons were spared from the Abu Sayyaf Group, whose formal name is Al-Harrakatul al-Islamiya (The Sword of Islam), even as millions in ransom were paid with the full knowledge and complicity of persons like Dureza, Gen. Rodolfo Garcia and other "peace advocates."
But do a Google Search like this one on "Beheadings in the Philippines" which yields over a hundred thousand references to dozens of instances in which hostages have indeed lost their heads, usually AFTER one of these ransom payments have been made. You will discover that in contrast to the above high-profile personalities for whom millions are paid in ransom, euphemistically called "board and lodging", the victims of the terrorist axe are usually poor unknown persons unfortunate enough not to mean much to the Palace, the Press, the Peace Negotiators or the Priesthood!
In May, 2001, we have Nine Christian hostages beheaded by the infamous Commander Robot (a darling of the local broadcast and newspaper media who glamorized and glorified his exploits by giving him unlimited air time and front page coverage).
Let's not forget those 15 Marines ambushed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front/ASG with ten of them beheaded last year, and robbed of cell phones (used to taunt their relatives) and wedding rings, were in Basilan looking for the aforesaid Fr. Bossi, who was later miraculously rescued (not ransomed) according to DILG Sec. Ronnie Puno in a "brilliant sting operation" on his ASG captors. In this instance, the Basilan Regional Trial Court issued arrest warrants against over a hundred suspects and the police were about to serve those warrants, when into the fray steps Peace Negotiators Jess Dureza and Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, insisting on a "special independent investigation" of the incident, whence the warrants were suspended and nothing has actually come of the whole bloody incident! Their report was never released and no one knows to this day whodunit. No arrests have been made. No one has been brought to justice for that heinous and savage crime. (Why? because many of those about to be arrested were their "partners in the peace process" from the MILF!).
It's not of course just American tourists like Jeff Sobero, or Philippine Marines that are beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf, or Christian women hostages raped and beheaded by the brave mujahedeen, there are also these seven impoverished summer-time workers trying to earn enough for tuition, who lost their heads to the courageous freedom fighting swordsmen, whom Philippine Daily Innuendo columnist Jose Ma. Montelibano calls "our Tausug brothers in Sulu".
Nota bene: Please notice that after each of these atrocities is committed, the President usually orders an "all-out war" to "resolutely crush the terrorists", after which the peace advocates take their cue for headlines, editorials and opinion columns and "peace lectures" usually somewhere in the safety of the Republic of Diliman.
Today, the two pairs of brothers who may indeed get their heads lopped off during the next 24 hours (unless of course Colombian President Uribe magically flies in on his white helicopter) are ordinary electric coop meter-readers who happen to be working for an outstan
ding electric coop, Baselco (via the Mindanao Examiner).
The Philippines is indeed the true decapitation capital of the world, not Iraq, or Afghanistan, having by far the greatest number of sawed-off, hacked-off heads. But only if you are poor and unknown, not rich, powerful, famous or an acquaintance of the peace negotiators and peace lecturers.