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CANADIAN HOSTAGE DECAPITATED BY ABU SAYYAF GROUP


APRIL 26 -A still image captured from video footage of the kidnappers and their victims is shown in this SITE Intelligence Group video made available to Reuters. File photo Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the decapitated head of a Caucasian male recovered Monday night in the southern Philippines belongs to one of two Canadians taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants in September.
Trudeau identified the victim as John Ridsdel of Calgary, Alberta and said his government will work with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this "heinous act."  Two men on a motorcycle left Ridsdel's head, placed inside a plastic bag, along a street in Jolo town in Sulu province and then fled, Jolo police chief Superintendent Junpikar Sitin said. Abu Sayyaf militants had threatened to behead one of three men — two Canadians and a Norwegian — they kidnapped last September from a marina on southern Samal Island if a large ransom was not paid by 3 p.m. on Monday. Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin condemned the beheading, blaming Abu Sayyaf militants, who have been implicated in past kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. "This is such a barbaric act by these people and one would be tempted to think that they should also meet the same fate," Amin said by telephone. Security forces were moving to rescue the abductees, also including a Filipino woman who was kidnapped with them, as the Abu Sayyaf's deadline for the ransom payment lapsed, the military said. The militants reportedly demanded P300 million pesos for each of the foreigners, a reduction from their earlier demands. The hostages were believed to have been taken to Jolo Island in Sulu, a jungled province where the militants are thought to be holding a number of captives, including 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian crewmen who were abducted at gunpoint from three tugboats starting last month. "Maximum efforts are being exerted ... to effect the rescue," the military and police said in a joint statement, without divulging details of the rescue operation, which was ordered by President Benigno Aquino III. READ MORE...RELATED, Headless body turned over to Canadian embassy...

ALSO: Abus plotted to take Pacquiao, Kris – Noy


APRIL 28 -“They allegedly even hatched plots to kidnap Manny Pacquiao or one of his children, as well as my sister Kris or one of her children, with the plan to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts. Threats against my own life have been investigated,” President Aquino said. Seth Wenig AP photo/Philstar.com AJ Bolando, file 
‘Smashing Sayyaf within our grasp’ MANILA, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf had hatched plots to kidnap boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and celebrity presidential sister Kris Aquino as part of the bandit group’s effort to gain favor with the extremist Islamic State (IS), President Aquino revealed yesterday. One of the bandit leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, through his cohorts in prison, tried to convert other inmates in the national penitentiary to their cause and establish ties with remnants of the Rajah Sulayman Movement, purportedly in an attempt to embark on a bombing campaign in Metro Manila, Aquino said.
He stressed he has to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf, which has been seeking to align itself with the IS. “They allegedly even hatched plots to kidnap Manny Pacquiao or one of his children, as well as my sister Kris or one of her children, with the plan to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts. Threats against my own life have been investigated,” Aquino said. The President said no improvised explosive device (IEDs) attributable to the group of Hapilon had been found. “We have monitored their activities, unraveled their network and arrested key players, while some of the minor players already on the run are being hunted down. I credit our security services for putting these threats to bed with both professionalism and discretion. The public may rest assured that they may go about their daily lives without fear or unease,” Aquino said. READ MORE...RELATED, Kris Aquino says Abu kidnap plot real reason for not renewing ABS-CBN contract... ALSO, Pacman on kidnap: I was not informed...

ALSO: Headless body found in Talipao, Sulu


APRIL 29 -AFP/GETTY IMAGES Canadian John Ridsdel was murdered by Philippines Muslim terror g roup Abu Sayyaf. Forensic experts are checking to see if a headless body found in southern Phillipines is Ridsdel. Residents in Barangay Bayog in Talipao, Sulu discovered the headless body of a man Wednesday morning. A police official in Sulu confirmed the report but said it is yet to be confirmed if the body is of John Ridsdel, a Canadian kidnap victim who was decapitated by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). On Monday, a severed head was found in Jolo, Sulu five hours after the deadline for ransom set by the militants expired. The Scene of the Crime Operatives are already in the area and still in the process of identifying the body. According to an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the body will be turned over to the Marine Battalion Landing Team in Talipao, Sulu. Meanwhile, following the directives on all-out offensive against the ASG in Sulu province, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said the military will use all its available resources against the militant group. Acting AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda and Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año arrived in Sulu Wednesday to meet grand commanders and discuss the ongoing all-out offensive. WestMinCom spokesperson Maj. Filemon Tan said all AFP special units are now going after the extremists. WestMinCom said that amid the operations, the safety of the kidnap victims is still their priority. THE FULL REPORT.RELATED, Sulu Army commander sacked ...

ALSO: CANADIANS WANT MORE ACTION FROM THE GOVT AFTER MURDER OF ABU SAYYAF HOSTAGE


APRIL 28 -Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, arrives with Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion, for meetings at a Liberal Party cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alta., Monday, the same day news broke of Canadian John Ridsdel's death. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press) CALGARY, Alberta – The murder of John Ridsdel, the Canadian who was held captive since September last year by Abu Sayyaf has shocked the whole of Canada, especially the City of Calgary where he used to live and worked as a journalist for many years. Canadians came together and held a vigil to offer prayers and support to the family of Ridsdel. Canadians want the Philippine and Canadian governments to do something for the other three hostages held by the Islamic militant group. Many Calgarians were shocked and angry at the Canadian government for not doing enough to save the life of Ridsdel. Alberta Health Services worker and vigil organizer Merle Terlesky said its worrisome seeing not much has been done by the federal government, especially since Ridsdel was held captive since September last year. “Without sounding too political, what becomes abundantly clear is that our Prime Minister’s policy of appeasing ISIS and such is not working,” said Terlesky. “We stopped the bombing in Iraq or in Syria and other targets and what has that accomplished? We still have a dead Canadian and maybe another one who is held captive.” Pastor Artur Pawloski, who was invited to lead the prayer for Ridsdel’s family and the other hostages, believes that the Canadian government should do more on the war on terrorism and protect its people against Islamic extremism. “We expect from the politicians to be vocal about what we care about,” said Pawloski. “We elected them to protect us and to be our voice. I would say it’s a shame on the government part that they are not willing to be our voice and they are playing this–I believe–garbage political correctness.” READ MORE...RELATED, Community holds vigil rally for beheaded Canadian...ALSO, Filipino journalist recalls her kidnapping by group that executed Canadian John Ridsdel...

ALSO: Philippine military hopeful raids may spur hostage release


MAY 2 -Brig.-Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Philippine Armed Forces, speaks in October shortly after the kidnappings of three Westerners by Abu Sayyaf. The terrorist organization killed Canadian hostage John Ridsdell last week. Padilla told CBC News on Friday he hoped Philippine military operations would pressure Abu Sayyaf to release the remaining hostages. Brig.-Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Philippine Armed Forces, speaks in October shortly after the kidnappings of three Westerners by Abu Sayyaf. The terrorist organization killed Canadian hostage John Ridsdell last week. Padilla told CBC News on Friday he hoped Philippine military operations would pressure Abu Sayyaf to release the remaining hostages. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press) 
A hostage's death in the Philippines tests a new government RCMP launches investigation to bring John Ridsdel killers to Canadian justice Philippine officials work to ID body found near where John Ridsdel was slain John Ridsdel execution: Why refusing to pay ransoms may not protect Canadians Trudeau says Canada 'does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists' Philippines under pressure to find group that beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel The Philippine military is hoping operations against Abu Sayyaf militants in the country's southern islands will force the group to free some of its hostages. But Brig.-Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., a spokesman for the Philippine Armed Forces, is warning the kidnappers are unlikely to give up their Western hostages, including Canadian Robert Hall. "I think they have been categorizing the other nationals, especially the Canadians and the Norwegian, as higher value hostages than the rest of the hostages they have," Padilla said.  Padilla is holding out hope some captives may be released as the Philippine military continues to put pressure on the militants.  "We see that the applied force that has been on the ground for several days, almost a week now, is ... causing them to release hostages so they can move freer," he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: 6 Maguindanao schools bombed; Comelec polling centers


APRIL 29 -Photo provided by the PNP shows a classroom damaged by a grenade attack on one of six schools in Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao before dawn Wednesday. Comelec loses polling centers in simultaneous attacks
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Panicked residents fled as grenades and anti-tank rockets were fired at six school buildings to be used as polling precincts in near-simultaneous attacks before dawn Wednesday.
The assailants shot up the school buildings with M-16 rifles as they fled, barangay officials told journalists. No injuries were reported. As of last night, police had no clues on the identities of the perpetrators who appeared to have used shoulder-fired 40-millimeter grenade projectiles and anti-tank rockets in the attacks in different barangays in Sultan Mastura town here, said municipal police chief Senior Insp. Wendylyn Banico. No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attacks. Reacting to the incident, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said voters assigned at the affected schools would likely be made to vote at other schools or polling precincts. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Canadian hostage decapitated by Abu Sayyaf group


A still image captured from video footage of the kidnappers and their victims is shown in this SITE Intelligence Group video made available to Reuters. File photo

MANILA, MAY 2, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Jim Gomez (Associated Press) April 26, 2016 - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the decapitated head of a Caucasian male recovered Monday night in the southern Philippines belongs to one of two Canadians taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants in September.

Trudeau identified the victim as John Ridsdel of Calgary, Alberta and said his government will work with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this "heinous act."


OUTRAGE! Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes a statement to the media about the death of John Ridsdel, in Kananaskis, Alta., Monday, April 25, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Two men on a motorcycle left Ridsdel's head, placed inside a plastic bag, along a street in Jolo town in Sulu province and then fled, Jolo police chief Superintendent Junpikar Sitin said.

Abu Sayyaf militants had threatened to behead one of three men — two Canadians and a Norwegian — they kidnapped last September from a marina on southern Samal Island if a large ransom was not paid by 3 p.m. on Monday.

Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin condemned the beheading, blaming Abu Sayyaf militants, who have been implicated in past kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.

"This is such a barbaric act by these people and one would be tempted to think that they should also meet the same fate," Amin said by telephone.

Security forces were moving to rescue the abductees, also including a Filipino woman who was kidnapped with them, as the Abu Sayyaf's deadline for the ransom payment lapsed, the military said.

The militants reportedly demanded P300 million pesos for each of the foreigners, a reduction from their earlier demands.

The hostages were believed to have been taken to Jolo Island in Sulu, a jungled province where the militants are thought to be holding a number of captives, including 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian crewmen who were abducted at gunpoint from three tugboats starting last month.


AQUINO

"Maximum efforts are being exerted ... to effect the rescue," the military and police said in a joint statement, without divulging details of the rescue operation, which was ordered by President Benigno Aquino III.

READ MORE...

About 400 Abu Sayyaf militants were involved in the kidnappings, it said.

In militant videos posted online, Ridsdel and fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor were shown sitting in a clearing with heavily armed militants standing behind them. In some of the videos, a militant positioned a long knife on Ridsdel's neck. Two black flags hung in the backdrop of lush foliage.

In Canada, Ridsdel was remembered as a brilliant, compassionate man with a talent for friendship.


John Ridsdel is one of two Canadians, a Norwegian man and Filipino woman abducted from the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort in the Philippines.THE CANADIAN PRESS NEWS REPORT

"He could bridge many communities, many people, many situations and circumstances and environments in a very gentle way," said Gerald Thurston, a lifelong friend of the former mining executive and journalist who grew up with him in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

Thurston said Ridsdel is survived by two adult daughters from a former marriage.

The abductions highlight the long-running security problems hounding the southern Philippines, a region with bountiful resources that also suffers from poverty, lawlessness and decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies.

The Abu Sayyaf began a series of large-scale abductions after it emerged in the early 1990s as an offshoot of a separatist rebellion by minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation's south.

It has been weakened by more than a decade of Philippine offensives but has endured largely as a result of large ransom and extortion earnings. The United States and the Philippines have both listed the group as a terrorist organization.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Headless body turned over to Canadian embassy By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Image from an undated Abu Sayyaf video shows Canadians John Ridsdel (right) and Robert Hall.

MANILA, Philippines - The headless body of a man who looks like a Caucasian, believed to be Canadian John Ridsdel, has been turned over to the Canadian embassy.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said the headless body, which was found in Barangay Gata, Talipao in Sulu, was flown to Heritage Park in Taguig yesterday morning.

Marquez said police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) conducted the autopsy on the body at the Heritage Park.

Ridsdel was one of four hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf since last September.

The kidnappers had issued a ransom deadline that lapsed Monday. His severed head was found in a plastic bag along a street in Jolo town.

On Wednesday, a headless cadaver of a Caucasian male was found in Talipao but authorities have yet to confirm if it was Ridsdel’s.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

There was no indication that the victim was beheaded in the area where it was found “due to the absence of blood stains in the scene,” according to a police investigator.


Philippine National Police Director General Ricardo Marquez talks to the media after reading a joint statement from the military and police on the beheading of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel of Calgary, Alberta by Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf Group in southern Philippines Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at Camp Crame in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. Ridsdel along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor were kidnapped last September from a marina on southern Samal Island with the militants threatening to behead one of the hostages if the large ransom was not paid Monday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) By: Jim Gomez The Associated Press Published on Tue Apr 26 2016

Ridsdel was among four hostages taken by the Abu Sayyaf in Samal Island last September.

The three remaining hostages – fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sikkengstad and Filipina Maritess Flor – are still being held by the bandit group, along with other foreigners, including 14 crewmen of an Indonesian tugboat. Four Malaysian seamen are also being held.

President Aquino has promised to devote his remaining days in office to crushing the Abu Sayyaf. Fourteen bandits have been killed in continued shelling of their stronghold in Jolo since Tuesday, a military spokesman said.

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) yesterday condemned the murder of Ridsdel.

“AmCham extends its deepest condolences to the Ridsdel family, friends and others close to this remarkable man,” the group said in a statement.

AmCham said Ridsdel was well known to the American business community in Manila, where he was based for many years.

“He was a strong believer in the development of the Philippines, to which he contributed as the senior executive of a mining company known for its highly responsible practices,” AmCham said.

“John Ridsdel had decided to retire in the Philippines. He made many friends among many nationalities and loved to sail among the islands from his base at Puerto Galera. It was when he responded from his boat moored on Samal Island to a call for help from a neighboring boat that he was seized,” it said.

AmCham joined the call on the government to bring the killers of Ridsdel to justice and to implement policies that will bring improved security and peace and development to areas in Mindanao where the Abu Sayyaf and other criminal elements operate.

Officials, on the other hand, are discussing coordinated naval patrols on its southern maritime borders with Indonesia and Malaysia to protect shipping after attacks and kidnappings by Islamist militants.

Foreign Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the government is proposing separate but coordinated patrols to identify safe corridors where ships can travel.

Indonesia last week called for joint maritime patrols with the Philippines and Malaysia. Joint patrols would involve ships from the three navies patrolling together and crossing into each other’s territorial waters.

Officials from the three sides are due to meet in Jakarta on May 5 to discuss cooperation.

“The issue is safety and security,” Almendras said.

“It’s called coordinated patrols, we’ll do our patrols and they will have their own patrols in their own territorial waters so there will be no more threats to the movement of ships, including the kidnapping of sailors.”

Two Indonesian coal ports have blocked ships from leaving for the Philippines and Malaysia’s eastern Sabah state due to security concerns.

The growing frequency of maritime attacks has affected coal trade between the Southeast Asian neighbors – Indonesia, the world’s largest thermal coal exporter, and the Philippines, which relies on Jakarta for 70 percent of its coal imports. – Roel Pareño


PHILSTAR

Abus plotted to take Pacquiao, Kris – Noy By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 28, 2016 - 12:00am 2 8 googleplus0 0


“They allegedly even hatched plots to kidnap Manny Pacquiao or one of his children, as well as my sister Kris or one of her children, with the plan to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts. Threats against my own life have been investigated,” President Aquino said. Seth Wenig AP photo/Philstar.com AJ Bolando, file

‘Smashing Sayyaf within our grasp’

MANILA, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf had hatched plots to kidnap boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and celebrity presidential sister Kris Aquino as part of the bandit group’s effort to gain favor with the extremist Islamic State (IS), President Aquino revealed yesterday.

One of the bandit leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, through his cohorts in prison, tried to convert other inmates in the national penitentiary to their cause and establish ties with remnants of the Rajah Sulayman Movement, purportedly in an attempt to embark on a bombing campaign in Metro Manila, Aquino said.

He stressed he has to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf, which has been seeking to align itself with the IS.

“They allegedly even hatched plots to kidnap Manny Pacquiao or one of his children, as well as my sister Kris or one of her children, with the plan to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts. Threats against my own life have been investigated,” Aquino said.

The President said no improvised explosive device (IEDs) attributable to the group of Hapilon had been found.

“We have monitored their activities, unraveled their network and arrested key players, while some of the minor players already on the run are being hunted down. I credit our security services for putting these threats to bed with both professionalism and discretion. The public may rest assured that they may go about their daily lives without fear or unease,” Aquino said.

READ MORE...

“However, we want to continue to seriously erode any ability of the Abu Sayyaf to continue to function. This is the reason we are conducting continuing operations in Basilan versus Isnilon Hapilon and his sub-leader, Furuji Indama,” the President said.

Aquino vowed to crush the Abu Sayyaf before he steps down from office in June, saying the opportunity to smash the bandit group is now within sight.

Aquino cited reports showing the three remaining captives of the Abu Sayyaf taken from Samal Island in Davao del Norte were under the control of Radillon Sajiron, who consolidated his forces around himself and the hostages.

“This presents both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because of the sizeable force surrounding Sajiron and the captives, but it is also an opportunity because smashing these forces is within our grasp,” Aquino said.

“This is why intensive operations are ongoing against the (Abu Sayyaf) forces holding civilians captive in Sulu,” he said.

Aquino ordered the military to exert full efforts to bring down the Abu Sayyaf on the mission to rescue the hostages while ensuring the safety of civilians in the theater of operations.

“We will leave no stone unturned and are studying every instrument, both military and legal, to ensure success in our areas of operation and wherever else required,” the President said.

The government had been exerting maximum efforts to stop the Abu Sayyaf and while casualties were to be expected, Aquino said the war against the bandit group “has to be of utmost importance.”

“The men and women in our Armed Forces are well-trained, well-equipped and resourceful. I have full trust and confidence in them,” the President said.

“We will not stop until the threat they pose to our communities is ended.”

The next president’s problem

The military came under increased pressure to rescue more than 20 foreign hostages still held by the Abu Sayyaf after the beheading of John Ridsdel, one of two Canadians and two others held hostage by the bandit group.

The troops, however, find it difficult to succeed without endangering the remaining captives.

But instead, Aquino said the bandits “galvanized us even further” to ensure justice would be meted out and the other hostages would be freed.

In a statement following the beheading of Ridsdel that outraged Canada, Aquino said the Abu Sayyaf thought “they could instill fear in us” by murdering people and terrorizing the whole population.

The President said he sent a letter expressing condolences to the family of Ridsdel last Tuesday.

“We are so appalled by this murder. Mr. Ridsdel was a person against whom no one had any grievance – a person who was powerless against his captors. I am ready to devote all my energies towards ensuring that, at the very least, this will be a very seriously degraded problem that I will pass on to my successor,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would be working with the Philippines to ensure that Robert Hall, the other Canadian being held by the Abu Sayyaf, is returned safely, Canada’s CBC News reported yesterday.

Trudeau told a press conference that he also spoke with President Aquino specifically about efforts to bring Ridsdel’s killers to justice while continuing to protect Canadians around the world.


TRUDEAU

Citing the security situation, Trudeau did not give any details of what the Canadian government was doing to help free Hall.

Trudeau, however, stressed the Canadian government will not pay any ransom, saying it would put at risk all of its citizens who traveled or lived abroad.

Trudeau added he had discussed the issue of paying ransom with British Prime Minister David Cameron and said they are convinced that the practice was wrong.

“We agreed that it is something that we are going to make sure we do bring up with our friends and allies around the world,” Trudeau said.

According to Trudeau, Ridsdel also holds a British passport.

“We need to make sure that terrorists understand that they cannot continue to fund their crimes and their violence (by) taking innocents hostage,” he said.

Headless

Ridsdel was one of four hostages, including fellow Canadian Hall, held by the Abu Sayyaf since last September.

The kidnappers had issued a ransom deadline that lapsed Monday. His severed head was found in a plastic bag along a street in Jolo town.

A headless cadaver of a Caucasian male was found in Patikul town yesterday but authorities have yet to confirm if it belongs to Ridsdel.

Provincial police director Sen. Supt. Wilfredo Cayat said the headless body was found by villagers Wednesday morning at Sitio Tibangao, Barangay Tugas covered with sack and leaves.

Cayat said he immediately sent his police team to recover the remains for possible verification of the identity of the victim.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman for Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the military has yet to verify if the body was that of Ridsdel, pending forensic investigation.

There was no indication that the victim was beheaded in the area where it was found “due to the absence of blood stains in the scene,” police investigator SPO2 Mannan Muallip said.

Sources said the Abu Sayyaf executed Ridsdel to avenge the killing of 13 of its men by the military during the night offensive operation to rescue the hostages last Sunday. – Roel Pareño, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Janvic Mateo

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Kris Aquino says Abu kidnap plot real reason for not renewing ABS-CBN contract SHARES: 8888 VIEW COMMENTS By: Marinel Cruz @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 05:49 PM April 28th, 2016


Kris Aquino. INSTAGRAM PHOTO Kris Aquino. INSTAGRAM PHOTO

Actress-TV host Kris Aquino on Thursday confirmed the alleged plot by bandit group Abu Sayyaf to kidnap her and cited this as the reason for not renewing her contract with broadcast network ABS-CBN.

The plan to kidnap Kris and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao was disclosed by President Benigno Aquino III in a statement released by Malacañang on Wednesday.

READ: Aquino: Abu Sayyaf also plotted to kidnap Pacquiao, Kris

Kris requested that her statement be published verbatim.

“Marinel- I was taken by surprise by the Malacañang statement. I wasn’t warned it would be made public. I had a 4a.m. call time today for a TVC shoot and my sister Viel sent me the PDI front page.

“Honest truth, I was made aware of this plot late February, early March. My sisters tried to shield me because they didn’t want me to have more fear than necessary. If you recall, my sons and I left in March to go abroad for three weeks. The health reasons I cited weren’t fabricated because the stress coming from the threat had caused my BP to constantly elevate to higher than 150/110.

“I didn’t renew with ABS CBN because of this threat. That was a painful decision, but I needed to make that judgment call so as not to expose others to harm. It was that serious that I walked away from a new two-year contract for a job I’ve loved for 20 years. I informed my bosses the pertinent facts, but not full details from the intelligence reports, and they kept what I was allowed to relay to them under wraps. I was told to strictly keep the news contained and I obeyed. And I am grateful for the respect I was shown.

“And to their credit, everybody closest to me- both coworkers, relatives and friends kept quiet to protect me and because they knew this was a matter to be taken seriously with utmost precaution.

“We left Palm Sunday and returned for my endorsement work commitments second week of April. You can check my IG (Instagram) feed from March onwards- there have been very few location specific posts, and since our return, the two boys (her sons Josh and Bimby) and I have been living with PNoy.

“If you’ll use this text- I hope I am quoted verbatim. I read and re-read my text to you four times to make sure I didn’t reveal more than what I have knowledge of and what is safe to share.”

RELATED STORIES

Kris Aquino to leave ABS-CBN for ‘healthier lifestyle’

Head of ‘Abu Sayyaf captive’ dumped on Sulu street – police

Abu Sayyaf hostage tells family they were in ‘very dangerous situation’

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ALSO FROM PHILSTAR

Pacman on kidnap: I was not informed By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


MANNY

Boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who is running for the Senate under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, said he has heard of similar plots a “long time ago” but paid them little heed. File photo MANILA, Philippines - Boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao yesterday said he was not aware of the supposed plot of the Abu Sayyaf to kidnap him or members of his family as announced by President Aquino.

Pacquiao said the information should have been passed on to him and not publicly announced.

“For me, if that was the intelligence report, they should have told me in advance and not announce it,” Pacquiao said.

“I have doubts (on its veracity), but I will not disregard it,” he added.

Pacquiao, who is running for the Senate under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, said he has heard of similar plots a “long time ago” but paid them little heed.

Aquino on Wednesday said the Abu Sayyaf had plotted to kidnap Pacquiao, the President’s youngest sister Kris or her children to bargain for the release of the bandit group’s arrested cohorts.

It was unclear if the plot as announced by Aquino was the same as that heard by Pacquiao in the past.

Pacquiao, however, stressed that he should have been informed officially of the intelligence report so that he could have tightened security, especially for his family.

“When I first heard (of the President’s statement), I was surprised because we are friends with everyone, especially our Muslim brothers and sisters, and we help those who need our help,” he said in Filipino.

Binay, who was accompanied by Pacquiao in his Laguna sorties yesterday, also wondered why Pacquiao was not informed of the threat.

“He is a government official, and he is loved by Filipinos... He should have been informed immediately. Imagine if something happened and the person is not informed. There is something fishy about it,” Binay said.

Pacquiao said he has requested tighter security, especially for his family, following the revelation of President Aquino.

Malacañang, however, refused to give additional details on Aquino’s revelation.

“Prudence demands that we do not go into more details as there are ongoing operations that may be affected,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“Bottomline: our people are adequately protected. They can carry on their usual activities with calm and ease,” Coloma added, refusing to disclose when the threats cropped up.

What is important, according to Coloma, is that a “careful reading of the President’s statement will give you the context of the Abu Sayyaf group terror threat and government efforts to neutralize these threats.” – Delon Porcalla


ABS-CBN

Headless body found in Talipao, Sulu Noning Antonio, ABS-CBN News Posted at Apr 27 2016 05:35 PM


AFP/GETTY IMAGES Canadian John Ridsdel was murdered by Philippines Muslim terror g roup Abu Sayyaf. Forensic experts are checking to see if a headless body found in southern Phillipines is Ridsdel.

Residents in Barangay Bayog in Talipao, Sulu discovered the headless body of a man Wednesday morning.

A police official in Sulu confirmed the report but said it is yet to be confirmed if the body is of John Ridsdel, a Canadian kidnap victim who was decapitated by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

On Monday, a severed head was found in Jolo, Sulu five hours after the deadline for ransom set by the militants expired.

The Scene of the Crime Operatives are already in the area and still in the process of identifying the body.

According to an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the body will be turned over to the Marine Battalion Landing Team in Talipao, Sulu.

Meanwhile, following the directives on all-out offensive against the ASG in Sulu province, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said the military will use all its available resources against the militant group.

Acting AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda and Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año arrived in Sulu Wednesday to meet grand commanders and discuss the ongoing all-out offensive.

WestMinCom spokesperson Maj. Filemon Tan said all AFP special units are now going after the extremists.

WestMinCom said that amid the operations, the safety of the kidnap victims is still their priority.

 

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Sulu Army commander sacked By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 28, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado’s relief came after last Monday’s beheading of John Ridsdel (right), one of two Canadians and two others held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf since September last year.

MANILA, Philippines – A senior Army officer leading the military operation against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu has been relieved following his reported resignation over operational disagreements with his superiors.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado was replaced by Col. Jose Faustino Jr. as commander of the Army’s 501st Brigade, a key Army unit directly involved in the operations against the Abu Sayyaf in the island province.

Arrojado’s relief came after last Monday’s beheading of John Ridsdel, one of two Canadians and two others held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf since September last year.

Arrojado was earlier stripped of his command as overall commander of the Joint Task Group-Sulu (JTGS), a move that removed him of operational control over all military units engaged in fighting the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

“For the last 18 months, he led the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf in the island of Jolo. Army officers usually serve a minimum of one year and six months in major positions to complete their billet requirements,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said, explaining why Arrojado was replaced.

Padilla, however, belied reports that Arrojado has resigned his position, stressing the military manual prohibits the resignation of an officer from his assignment unless he is being relieved of his post.

READ MORE...

In Arrojado’s case, he is being replaced not because of the Ridsdel beheading but as part of a routine movement within the military where officers are reassigned to another position, Padilla said.

“According to the Army manual, no army officer, aside from major position, can resign because it is covered by orders. Everything is covered by orders. It’s written in the order that an officer signed, during an assumption of command, that he will only relinquish his post when properly relieved,” Padilla said.

There were reports that Arrojado was so disappointed that he resigned his position after figuring in a shouting match with his superior officer, Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, commander of the 1st Infantry Division. Barrientos earlier replaced Arrojado as Joint Task Force Sulu commander.

The shouting match, according to sources, was triggered by disagreements between the two officers over the Samal hostage crisis setback with the execution of Ridsdel.

Three other Samal hostages, aside from 14 Indonesians and four Malaysians being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf, are Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstand and Hall’s Filipina girlfriend, Maritess Flor.

The bandits, asking for P300 million ransom for each of the Samal victims, issued a final ultimatum that they would executive one of the captives if their ransom demand was not met earlier this week.

Arrojado reportedly dismissed the Abu Sayyaf ultimatum and took it upon himself to rescue the hostages at all cost despite dissenting opinions of his superiors, who in turn aired a different approach in solving the crisis, including the conduct of discreet negotiations with the bandits.


BALITANG AMERICA

CANADIANS WANT MORE ACTION FROM THE GOVT AFTER MURDER OF ABU SAYYAF HOSTAGE By Quay Evano, ABS-CBN North America Bureau


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, arrives with Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion, for meetings at a Liberal Party cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alta., Monday, the same day news broke of Canadian John Ridsdel's death. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

CALGARY, Alberta – The murder of John Ridsdel, the Canadian who was held captive since September last year by Abu Sayyaf has shocked the whole of Canada, especially the City of Calgary where he used to live and worked as a journalist for many years.

Canadians came together and held a vigil to offer prayers and support to the family of Ridsdel. Canadians want the Philippine and Canadian governments to do something for the other three hostages held by the Islamic militant group.

Many Calgarians were shocked and angry at the Canadian government for not doing enough to save the life of Ridsdel.

Alberta Health Services worker and vigil organizer Merle Terlesky said its worrisome seeing not much has been done by the federal government, especially since Ridsdel was held captive since September last year.

“Without sounding too political, what becomes abundantly clear is that our Prime Minister’s policy of appeasing ISIS and such is not working,” said Terlesky. “We stopped the bombing in Iraq or in Syria and other targets and what has that accomplished? We still have a dead Canadian and maybe another one who is held captive.”

 

Pastor Artur Pawloski, who was invited to lead the prayer for Ridsdel’s family and the other hostages, believes that the Canadian government should do more on the war on terrorism and protect its people against Islamic extremism.

“We expect from the politicians to be vocal about what we care about,” said Pawloski. “We elected them to protect us and to be our voice. I would say it’s a shame on the government part that they are not willing to be our voice and they are playing this–I believe–garbage political correctness.”

READ MORE...

In his official statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the heinous act.

“This was an act of cold-blooded murder,” said Trudeau. “Responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage.”

Filipinos in Calgary were also saddened with the murder of their fellow Calgarian. Now they are worried that the three other hostages might suffer the same fate.

“As a Filipino-Calgarian, we mourn his death,” said Nelly Alcaraz of Migrante Alberta. “It could have been prevented had the two governments intervened properly in order to save his life.”

Another vigil rally is being planned by the organizers to pray for the safe release of the other hostages.

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RELATED FROM THE ABS-CBN

Community holds vigil rally for beheaded Canadian Quay Evano, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau Posted at Apr 27 2016 06:36 PM


John Ridsdel captured six months ago by the group Abu Sayyaf -

CANADA - The murder of John Ridsdel, the Canadian who was held captive since September 2015 by the Abu Sayyaf Group has shocked the whole of Canada, especially the city of Calgary where he used to live and work as a journalist for many years.

Canadians came together and held a vigil to offer prayers and support to the family of Ridsdel, the Calgarian who was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines. Ridsdel was vacationing in Samal Islands last year when he was abducted with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor.

The Abu Sayyaf demanded P300 million for each hostage for their release. The ransom deadline lapsed on Monday morning and Ridsdel was subsequently beheaded. READ: PH vows justice for Canadian killed by Abu Sayyaf Many Calgarians were shocked and angry at the Canadian government for not doing enough to save the life of Ridsdel.

"It's a terrible tragedy. My condolences go out to the family and to the friends of John. It's a terrible thing to have to deal with. Obviously, we can't stop every hostage taking that goes on but I think a little bit more should be done," said Alberta Health Services worker and vigil organizer Merle Terlesky.

READ MORE...

Pastor Artur Pawloski, who was invited to lead the prayer for Ridsel’s family and the other hostages, believe that the Canadian government should do more on the war on terrorism and protect its people against Islamic extremism.

In his official statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the heinous act and said "This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage."

Trudeau condemns Abu Sayyaf murder of Canadian. Filipinos in Calgary were also saddened with murder of their fellow Calgarian.

Now, they are worried that the three other hostages might suffer the same fate.

"As a Filipino Calgarian, we mourn his death and it could have been prevented had you know proper, you know the two governments could have intervened properly in order to save his life and I hope that this will be the last life because I think there are two more or three more hostages in the Philippines and I pray for their release the soonest possible time," said Nelly Alcaraz of Migrante Alberta.


CBC CANADA

Journalist recalls her kidnapping by group that executed Canadian John Ridsdel with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas Tuesday April 26, 2016


Journalist Ces Drilon narrates her ordeal during a press conference in Zamboanga City, Philippines in 2008. (Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images)

Philippine journalist Ces Drilon is seen talking about her ordeal in 2008. Drilon and two other hostages walked out of a forest on Jolo, the southern island where she was held.

Journalism prof says Margaret Wente committed 'capital sin in journalism' Journalist recalls her kidnapping by group that executed Canadian John Ridsdel Harper Lee magazine article on 'In Cold Blood' murders uncovered Nashville homeowner ordered to remove his front yard zombie FULL EPISODE Journalist Ces Drilon knows better than most what John Ridsdel went through being held hostage by the militant group Abu Sayyef. In 2008, she was kidnapped and held for ransom too.

On Monday, Ridsdel was executed by his hostage-takers. Driolon's situation ended instead with her release after 10 days.

"In the end, it's all about money. They don't really have any ideology. They're just after money." - Ces Drilon, journalist once held hostage by Abu Sayyef Drilon says memories of her ordeal came flooding back to her after she heard of the killing of Ridsdel,

"It was eight years ago, but it seems like it just happened," she tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

Drilon was going to interview members of the group when the leader told her that she was going to be held for ransom.

"During my time, the threat of beheading was always there, but in the end, I thought they were just bluffing."

READ MORE...


Philippine journalist Ces Drilon is seen talking about her ordeal in 2008. Drilon and two other hostages walked out of a forest on Jolo, the southern island where she was held. (JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

She is shocked that the Canadian hostage was killed because, in her case, several deadlines for ransom payment were missed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the killing of John Ridsdel on Monday. Ridsdel was one of two Canadians held hostage since September by the al-Qaeda-linked group in the Philippines.


Canadian John Ridsdel was killed by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the Philippines Monday. (@JBR10000/Twitter)

Drilon says the kidnappers motivation is only about one thing.

"In the end, it's all about money. They don't really have any ideology. They're just after money."

Drilon says the days when she was held hostage were filled with boredom and uncertainty.

"There's not much food. There's not much to do. It's horrible. You can't walk around. There's no place to go."

Drilon also understands why a rescue isn't always practical. She says villagers in the local area wouldn't dare betray Abu Sayyef for fear of reprisal,

"In my case, I was hoping for a rescue, but that would have been very dangerous. And I think that's what the government troops are trying to do now."

The Philippine army has been pursuing the group for several months. Speculation from a number of news outlets says pressure is ramping up after the execution of Ridsdel. The last clash between government forces and Abu Sayyef left 18 soldiers dead and many others wounded.


CBC CANADA

Philippine military hopeful raids may spur hostage release Military spokesman says full force being applied to militant groups By Tom Parry, CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2016 4:22 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 29, 2016 10:17 PM ET


Brig.-Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Philippine Armed Forces, speaks in October shortly after the kidnappings of three Westerners by Abu Sayyaf. The terrorist organization killed Canadian hostage John Ridsdell last week. Padilla told CBC News on Friday he hoped Philippine military operations would pressure Abu Sayyaf to release the remaining hostages. Brig.-Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Philippine Armed Forces, speaks in October shortly after the kidnappings of three Westerners by Abu Sayyaf. The terrorist organization killed Canadian hostage John Ridsdell last week. Padilla told CBC News on Friday he hoped Philippine military operations would pressure Abu Sayyaf to release the remaining hostages. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)

A hostage's death in the Philippines tests a new government RCMP launches investigation to bring John Ridsdel killers to Canadian justice Philippine officials work to ID body found near where John Ridsdel was slain John Ridsdel execution: Why refusing to pay ransoms may not protect Canadians Trudeau says Canada 'does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists' Philippines under pressure to find group that beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel The Philippine military is hoping operations against Abu Sayyaf militants in the country's southern islands will force the group to free some of its hostages.

But Brig.-Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., a spokesman for the Philippine Armed Forces, is warning the kidnappers are unlikely to give up their Western hostages, including Canadian Robert Hall.

"I think they have been categorizing the other nationals, especially the Canadians and the Norwegian, as higher value hostages than the rest of the hostages they have," Padilla said.

Padilla is holding out hope some captives may be released as the Philippine military continues to put pressure on the militants.

"We see that the applied force that has been on the ground for several days, almost a week now, is ... causing them to release hostages so they can move freer," he said.

READ MORE...

Analysis:

A hostage's death in the Philippines tests a new government

Philippine officials work to ID body found near where Ridsdel was slain

Trudeau says Canada 'does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists'

Abu Sayyaf has 25-year record of kidnappings and bombings

In a telephone interview, Padilla said the military has been operating in the southern Philippines in an area where militants are believed to be holding captives, including Hall.

Hall was taken last September along with another Canadian, John Ridsdel, a Norwegian man, Kjartan Sekkingstad, and a Filipina, Marites Flor.

Philippines Kidnapped Foreigners


The hostages were shown in a video released by Abu Sayyaf last October. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)

The kidnappers had demanded roughly $8.3 million each for the foreigners' release.

Ridsdel was beheaded this week when those demands were not met by a deadline that expired on Monday.

'Full force of military power is being applied'

As operations continue, Padilla said the military recognizes the danger that the kidnappers may kill their hostages rather than free them, but says the safety of the captives remains the top priority of Philippine authorities.

As for possible Canadian help with operations against Abu Sayyaf, Padilla says "there have been offers of help" but adds that, right now, the Philippine military is working on its own.

"The full force of military power is being applied," he said, including resources from the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard.

He noted the operation "is challenging to a very high degree," but said the military remains firm in its resolve.

Abu Sayyaf militants enjoy a high level of support in the region. The group's fighters have family ties to local villagers and know the area well.

"From a tactical view, they have mastery of the terrain," Padilla said.

"There will be no let up until we get to these groups' hideouts and hopefully rescue the victims."

The Philippine military has faced a tough fight against Abu Sayyaf. The group has operated for more than two decades despite government efforts to stamp it out.

Just this month, 18 Philippine soldiers were killed in a single battle.

Phil Gurski, a security expert and former strategic analyst with CSIS, says the Philippine military has had a "hit and miss" record tackling the group.

With the death of John Ridsdel, Gurski says the military is under pressure to take action. But given Abu Sayyaf's record, he isn't sure how likely it is militants would simply abandon their hostages, no matter how much pressure they are under.


PHILSTAR

6 Maguindanao schools bombed By John Unson (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 10 googleplus0 1


Photo provided by the PNP shows a classroom damaged by a grenade attack on one of six schools in Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao before dawn Wednesday. Comelec loses polling centers in simultaneous attacks

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Panicked residents fled as grenades and anti-tank rockets were fired at six school buildings to be used as polling precincts in near-simultaneous attacks before dawn Wednesday.

The assailants shot up the school buildings with M-16 rifles as they fled, barangay officials told journalists. No injuries were reported.

As of last night, police had no clues on the identities of the perpetrators who appeared to have used shoulder-fired 40-millimeter grenade projectiles and anti-tank rockets in the attacks in different barangays in Sultan Mastura town here, said municipal police chief Senior Insp. Wendylyn Banico.

No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attacks.

Reacting to the incident, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said voters assigned at the affected schools would likely be made to vote at other schools or polling precincts.

READ MORE...

Damaged in the attacks were classrooms at the Tapayan Central School, Dagurungan Elementary School, Tuka Elementary School, Darping Elementary School, Tareken Primary School and Simuay Seashore Elementary School.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) ordered the region’s education secretary John Magno to send teams to the affected schools to determine what would be needed to hasten the repair of the damaged classrooms.

Hataman said he has also ordered ARMM police director Chief Supt. Ronald Estilles to assign intelligence agents to help the Sultan Mastura municipal police investigate the incident.

Estilles said Sultan Mastura police and the 37th Infantry Battalion proceeded at once to the schools after the attacks.

Based on initial investigation, unidentified men strafed the concrete wall of the computer building of the Tapayan Elementary School. An explosion in Tuka Elementary School, Barangay Tuka caused damage to two doors of classrooms, roof, ceiling and glass windows. A blast near one of the doors left a hole 0.47 meter wide and 0.20 meter deep.

“Likewise, the explosion in Dagurungan Elementary School, Barangay Dagurungan resulted in damage to two doors of the classrooms, roof, ceiling and glass windows with a crater .20 meter in diameter and .09 meter depth,” he added.

In Darping Elementary School in Barangay Macabiso, Estilles said the explosion was caused by a grenade, a conclusion based on the recovery at the site of a safety lever.

Investigators said the grenade may have been intended to explode inside a classroom but it landed on the playground, causing little damage.

Assessing situation Comelec Commissioner Sheriff Abas said field officers of the poll body would inspect the areas that came under attack to assess the situation before making final recommendations.

Abas said any decision to put the areas under Comelec control would be based on whatever is recommended by the field officers.

He stressed one of the options is to transfer the voters assigned at the affected schools to other schools so they can vote on May 9.

“If the schools can no longer be used because they have been razed by fire, or in this case bombed, the en banc will do the transfer,” he added.

If teachers refuse to serve in the areas during the elections, the Comelec may have to require members of the Philippine National Police to serve as Board of Elections Inspectors.

“In ARMM, sometimes on the day of the elections there are teachers who will suddenly not show up. There is a process that the Comelec en banc observes in dealing with a situation like this,” he maintained.

Sens. Vicente Sotto III and Gregorio Honasan, meanwhile, expressed concern over the attacks, which came barely 10 days before the national elections.

“This is definitely an act of terrorism,” Sotto said, as he called on Gov. Toto Mangudadatu to look deeper into the incident.

“This is obviously an act of terrorism for you to target schools. Somehow related to the forthcoming elections because they are voting precincts,” Sotto said.

Honasan said the incident would have a chilling effect on teachers assigned to poll duties on May 9. – Sheila Crisostomo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Christina Mendez


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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