PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AWARD-WINNING ABS-CBN reporter Ces Oreña-Drilon said they were victims of betrayal in Sulu where they spent nine days in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.
“I’ve been in and out of Mindanao in all my years as a journalist. Ang gusto ko lang gumawa ng istorya tungkol dito. Sa kasamaang palad, there was some betrayal involved kaya kami na-kidnap,” said Drilon.
She expressed belief, however, that their guide was also a victim of the betrayal. “Ang duda namin our guide was betrayed, may nanloko sa kanya… Bahala na mga autoridad doon kasi ang buong akala namin ay mag-i-interview kami which never happened.”
She was referring to their guide Juamil Biyaw alias Kumander Mameng, who was with Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo when he fetched Drilon, and her cameramen Angelo Valderama and Jimmy Encarnacion.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director Chief Supt. Joel R. Goltiao said Drilon was indeed betrayed by the people she contacted in Sulu and Biyaw appears to be involved.
“Doon siya na-betray sa mga kausap niya sa Sulu. So we are finding out who these persons were,” Goltiao said adding that Biyaw has a lot of explaining to do.
“Sa nakikita namin malaki ang kinalaman nitong si Biyaw sa kidnapping but this must be corroborated by witnesses,” Goltiao ssaid.
Biyaw was the driver/guide of Drilon going to Indanan, Sulu. He was surrendered by former Patikul, Sulu Mayor Ismun Suhuri to Task Force Commet chief Major General Juancho Sabban.
Goltiao said Biyaw is now under the custody of TF Comet where they are getting his statement. “Pero mas interested kami sa gagawing tactical interrogation sa kanya (Biyaw) ng CIDG, Western Mindanao police, at ng ARMM police,” Goltiao said.
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Nicanor A. Bartolome said the PNP will file kidnapping for ransom charges against the bandits.
Drilon’s group was brought to Barangay Ajing in Indanan town where they were seized by Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Albader Parad and Gapur Jumdail.
Although the two have not been included in the charge sheet yet, police have identified two of those to be charged as Sulayman Patta alias Abu Harris and Walid alias Tuas Wals. A P500,000 reward has been offered by the Department of Interior and Local Government for the capture of each of the suspects.
Drilon blamed herself for going beyond the limits just to get a story. She asked forgiveness from her loved ones for the suffering she caused them.
“Sobra akong humihingi ng tawad sa kanila. Accountability ko rin ang mga nangyari sa kanila (her crew) una si Angel (Valderama), at si Jimmy na siya raw pupugutan ng ulo ng mga bandido. Pero naging matatag kami, hindi kami naging mahina, walang sisihan kung bakit ba kami napunta doon. There was team work among the three of us,” Drilon said.
“You know I always go for the story without thinking of my loved ones: my mom, my kids. Kailangan ko rin palang isipin na may mga nagmamahal sa akin. So unfair sa aking mga children, mom,” Drilon added.
She admitted she broke some company rules on covering events, including conducting interviews with bandits such as the Abu Sayyaf Group. “May mga instructions ang office namin na sinuway ko rin. I disregarded some warning and I put the lives of my crew in danger,” she said.
Drilon said life in captivity was very hard as they had to move from one place to another, eat a one-fourth pack of instant noodles each meal, sleep on hammocks and sometimes on the ground with sacks as their only protection from the cold earth.
Despite her ordeal, the veteran TV journalist had a kind thought for her abductors.
“It’s horrible. You sleep on the ground. Pero iniisip ko rin kung bakit nila ginagawa yun. But let me make it clear that I don’t condone what they’re doing, mga bandits sila. Masaklap ang kabuhayan nila, mahirap din ang pagkain nila,” the veteran television reporter said.
She admitted that she almost gave up hope as their release had been stalled for days. “So, parang hinahanda ko na rin ang sarili ko sa anumang mangyayari at may posibilidad na mamatay ka, so, inihanda ko na rin ang sarili ko,” she said.
“I feel great, masayang-masaya kami at hindi nga maubos ang ngiti namin habang nasa eroplano kami. At saka malaking bagay na malampasan ang ordeal for 10 days na hindi mo malaman kung mabubuhay ka pa o hindi… Tatatag ang sarili mo bilang isang tao,” Drilon said.
Encarnacion said he thought that he would not make it out of the bandits’ lair alive.“Akala ko talaga katapusan ko na. Nakatali kami, pinapalo pa kami ng M14 rifle. Salamat sa mga dasal ninyo at pinakinggan,” he said.
Encarnacion said there were some 20 bandits guarding them most of the time, with youths aged 12 to 17 also in the lair brandishing firearms.