Sulu town Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and son Haider Isnaji were ordered released Monday, April 12, 2010 by a Philippine court after they are cleared of all charges against them. Both had been detained and charged in court by the police in connection with the June 8, 2008 kidnappings of ABS-CBN television presenter Ces Drilon and her two cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, including a university professor Octavio Dinampo. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / April 12, 2010) – A town mayor jailed on charges of collecting ransom for four people kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province had been released Monday, his secretary said.
Gafs Kanain said Alvarez Isnaji and his son, Haider, were released from jail at 3 p.m. after a court in Manila found him innocent on all charges.
“He is now a free man. Mayor Alvarez Isnaji was released from jail at 3 p.m. today after the court found him innocent of the charges against him. His son, Haider, was also released – both of them are happy and are looking forward be with their loved ones in Sulu,” Kanain told the Mindanao Examiner.
Philippine authorities blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the June 8, 2008 kidnapping of an ABS-CBN television reporter Ces Drilon and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, including their guide, university professor Octavio Dinampo.
The four were freed separately a week later allegedly in exchange for some P20 million.
Isnaji and his son helped in the negotiations for the release of the hostages, but the politician insisted no ransom was paid to the kidnappers.
Provincial authorities had blamed Drilon’s group for ignoring warnings not to go to areas where the Abu Sayyaf is actively operating. Drilon also rejected security escorts and relied on her own guide.
Drilon and her group were detained by followers of a senior Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, whom they wanted to interview after he allegedly sent surrender feelers to the government.
Police implicated Abu Sayyaf leaders Albader Parad, Gafur Jumdail, Umbra Jumdail, Tuan Walis and Sulayman Patta as among about 30 gunmen who held Drilon’s group.
But Avelino Razon, then the chief of the Philippine National Police, tagged Isnaji as one of the alleged mastermind of the gang that held Drilon’s group and that his son was also involved in the kidnapping.
Razon said Isnaji allegedly took P3 million from the P5 million ransom paid for the release of one kidnapped cameraman.
Sahiron, a notorious terror man, is included on the most wanted lists both of the Philippines and the United States because of killings and kidnappings of foreigners and Filipinos.
The United States listed the Abu Sayyaf group as a foreign terrorist organization and has offered rewards of up to $5 million for the capture of its known leaders. US troops are deployed in Sulu province since 2006 and assisting the Philippine military defeats the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner)