Journalism here in the Philippines is quite competitive, but the bad news is that if journalists are too aggressive, they put themselves in danger.

This seems to be what happened to an ABS-CBN news crew who disappeared yesterday.

Drilon, her team and Dinampo went missing Sunday after leaving a college hostel in Maimbung town. Drilon and her crew were supposed to be on special assignment in Sulu when they disappeared.

Witnesses said armed men intercepted them in Kulasi village in Maimbung.

Professor Dinampo is a local activist with connections to local “insurgencies”. Local peace activists are bemoaning his kidnapping.

He has been in the forefront of peace advocacy, good governance and relief and rehabilitation efforts in the conflict affected areas in Mindanao. As a Convenor of the Bantay Ceasefire, Prof. Octavio has exemplified the ideals of active non-violence and the values of respect, tolerance and dialogue of life and faith.

Reality check, please.

The Manila Times quotes Senator “Pong” Biazon in a headline:

Abu Sayyaf raising funds again – ‘Pong’

Let’s give some background.

A lot of the MILF want to make peace, but the Abu Sayyaf are goading them to go back to fighting.

The dirty little secret is that fighting costs money, and a lot of the “Islamic charities” that used to fund them have had their bank accounts shut down thanks to Bush’s “war on terror”, so to raise money, you turn to simple extortion and kidnapping.

Heck, why risk your neck fighting the Marines when you can make millions by threatening to blow up a bus or cellphone tower, or kidnap a naive priest or peace activist?

And you don’t want to kidnap someone with security guards, or who might make a fuss. Priests, tourists, reporters, and other “high profile” folks  whose employers have deep pockets are the most likely target.In this case, alas, it seems that the peace activist was the naive patsy, thinking he was taking them to an interview (sans military or security guards) when actually he was delivering some nice peaceful hostages to some very bad criminals.

Everyone here is upset about it.

The Abu’s have a history of kidnapping journalists looking for a story:

Abu Sayyaf’s many hostages have included European journalists Andreas Lorenz, Maryse Burgot, Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura, who were kidnapped on the island of Jolo in 2000. Arlyn de la Cruz, a reporter for the daily Inquirer and privately-owned TV station Net25, was released in April 2002 after being held for 100 days on Jolo.

On the other hand, if they are harmed, expect the far left to blame it on the government, since ABS CBN is independent and aggressively covers government scandals.

Summary:

If they pay ransom, a lot of Pinoys will end up dead because the Abu can recruit and pay more soldiers. But the reporters will be returned safely, and everyone will ignore or deny that ransom was paid.

If the Military go in and get them, a lot of locals who are hoping for peace will be harmed.

If the reporters are harmed, the government will be blamed either for their action or their failure to rescue the reporters.

So all stops are being pulled out to release the hostages: Local liasons with the Moro community, the Philippine Military, and peace activists are all busy trying to help.

But essentially this is a “lose/lose” situation for the government.

As fornDrilon, her crew, and Professor Dinampo: they are all in our prayers.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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