Unidentified kidnappers are demanding a five million peso ransom for the release of two policewomen they abducted on Sulu Island.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said today (Wednesday, May 2) that local officials had opened negotiations with a kidnapping group two days after the abduction took place.
“We have negotiators. We have asked help from local chief executives there and the initial ransom is five million pesos,” he confirmed.
On Monday, off-duty police officers Benierose Alvarez and Dinah Gumahad, along with male civilians Jakosalem Ahamad Blas and Faizal Ahidji, were captured in Patikul, Sulu, by what police and military sources have described as “lawless elements”.
The police are currently looking into possible ties between the eleven armed men and the Islamic State-affiliated Abu Sayyaf terror group (ASG).
At a press conference today, Albayalde suggested it was possible that the perpetrators were “a group composed of children of ASG that fell casualty to police and military operations”.
The army’s Joint Task Force Sulu attempted to rescue the victims yesterday, leaving one militant dead and three soldiers injured. The encounter ended with the remaining abductors making their escape.
The good news, Albayalde said, was “there is proof of life” as of this morning.
The national police chief said it was unlikely the government would pay the ransom demanded by the captors.
“That’s a terror activity so we do not give in to these kinds of demands,” he said.
The two policewomen, who both worked at the PNP Crime Laboratory office based in Zamboanga City were believed to be on vacation on Sulu with their male companions. They had enjoyed a picnic on Quezon Beach shortly before they were seized.
Negotiations and pursuit operations are ongoing.