AFP verifying kidnapped Australian in Internet video
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The military is validating whether the Caucasian in an Internet video posted last Christmas was Warren Rodwell, the Australian national kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf last year.

“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is currently verifying and taking initial steps to confirm if the video posted on YouTube is really that of a certain personality as claimed,” AFP deputy public affairs chief Maj. Emmanuel Garcia said.

“Rest assured that the AFP will take measures in support of the PNP (Philippine National Police) in its law enforcement functions to fully ascertain the identity and, if possible, the whereabouts of the individual if he is a kidnap victim,” he added.

The military also urged the public to provide information that could help authorities rescue the victim.

“The AFP, PNP, concerned government agencies and the civilian populace must always work together, mutually supporting each other in keeping the peace, maintaining order and enforcing the law for the safety and security of everyone,” Garcia said.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed news that Rodwell was alive after being held hostage for more than a year in the Philippines.

He said, however, the prolonged captivity of Rodwell was a “major concern.”

Rodwell, a 54-year-old former soldier from Sydney, was seized by suspected Muslim extremists from his home in the town of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay on Dec. 5, 2011.

In a video the SITE monitoring group said had been posted on YouTube channel linked to Abu Sayyaf, Rodwell confirmed he was taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf.

Rodwell said the date is Dec. 16, 2012 and held up a newspaper from the previous day. He said he was kidnapped 54 weeks ago.

“I’m being held prisoner, kidnapped by (the) Abu Sayyaf Muslim terrorist group for over one year – actually 53, 54 weeks today,” Rodwell said in the two-minute video.

“This video clip today is to say that I am alive, I am waiting to be released. I have no idea what’s going on outside, I’m just held prisoner in isolation.”

“I understand something is happening, but I don’t know when. I do not expect to be released before the year 2013 at the earliest… no hope at all for being released. I do not trust the Abu Sayyaf, I do not trust the Australian government, I just don’t trust anyone, any person, I don’t care,” Rodwell supposedly said in the video.

Carr said the “confirmation of Mr. Rodwell’s welfare is welcome” but described his prolonged captivity as a “major concern.”

“The Philippine government has the lead in response to this case and is devoting significant resources to securing Mr. Rodwell’s release,” Carr said in a statement.

Rodwell’s captors have demanded $2 million for his release but authorities refused to give in, saying they adhere to a no-ransom policy.

Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, former Western Mindanao police director now chief of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Planning, confirmed Rodwell is being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf. – With Roel Pareño


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