Ces Drilon Kidnapping Underscores the Dangers of Going After the News in the Philippines

Check updated entries:

  • Ces Drilon’s Abu Sayyaf Kidnappers Give Ultimatum
  • The Ces Drilon Kidnapping and the Changing Face of Philippine Journalism
  • Ransom for Ces Drilon and Company To Pay or Not to Pay
  • Ces Drilon is a veteran broadcast journalist who has been at the center of many an unfolding news story, often under perilous circumstances. She was first on the scene during the failed putsch and siege of the Manila Peninsula in November of last year. No stranger to danger, she has done many features on Mindanao, and seemed particularly at home in the Sulu and Basilan areas, where she covered numerous newsworthy events for ABS-CBN.

    She is now in the unenviable position of being in the news herself. Yesterday, rumors had been circulating that Ms. Drilon and two of her cameramen, Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderrama, were seized by Abu Sayyaf militants in the village of Kulasi in the town of Maimbung, Sulu. She was with Octavio Dinampo, a professor from the Mindanao State University, who was helping Ms. Drilon in her coverage. They were reportedly taken to the hinterlands of Indanan town.

    This was later confirmed by Supt. Julasirim Kiram, the Sulu provincial police chief in an interview with the Mindanao Examiner.

    “We received reports that the four were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf led by Albader Parad,” Kasim told the Mindanao Examiner.

    “There is no demand yet for ransom,” Kasim said, adding, Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan convened the Crisis Management Committee to address the situation.

    “Governor Sakur Tan is very worried over the safety of the victims and we are doing everything to locate them,” Kasim said.

    ABS-CBN subsequently issued an official statement on the kidnapping.

    That someone as notable and respected as Ms. Drilon would be abducted underscores the danger being a journalist in the Philippines. It’s a well-known fact that the Philippines is one of the most hazardous places to practice this sometimes deadly profession. The country has the shameful distinction of having the fifth-highest number of journalists murdered (beating out war zones like Afghanistan), based on the 1992-2008 figures of the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists, which likewise condemned the Drilon kidnapping.

    Others would say that the Philippines would rank much higher if we count only the data for the years that President Gloria Arroyo had been in office. Journalists face threats not only from criminal elements like the Abu Sayyaf, but also from government institutions. Media and human rights groups, with good reason, have accused the Arroyo administration of adopting a policy of suppressing and harassing the press. Multiple libel suits are the least of Filipino media practitioners’ problems. More worrisome is the series of unabated murders of journalists all over the country, many remaining unsolved or the perpetrators unpunished. No less then Chief Justice Reynato Puno decried this “censorship by killing” and the continued hounding of democracy advocates, especially journalists.

    Like the others, Ces Drilon was simply doing her job of keeping us informed about events that, directly or indirectly, impact our lives . Being kidnapped is a high price to pay for looking after the public interest.

    This latest outrage brings to mind the fate of Daniel Pearl, a prominent Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and brutally murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002.

    Kal Raustiala, director of UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations observed:

    Daniel Pearl’s story and his tragedy are unfortunately not unusual. Journalists are in danger all over the world, yet it is journalists who give us the critical facts and context we need to understand events as they unfold.

    And as Henry Pinder of Reuters TV News, in talking about Daniel Pearl, reminds us:

    We easily forget–or don’t think about until tragedy strikes–the thousands of workaday journalists around the world who maintain the daily information flows on which our governments, businesses and free societies depend in order to survive and prosper.

    Just think of a world without the news thousands of journalists provide. Every time a journalist is killed, another window to the light is slammed shut.

    Most of them were not international war correspondents as one might expect, but ordinary reporters and editors in their own countries, trying to shine the light of exposure on the dark recesses of crime and corruption.

    Thus, the safety of all journalists is our collective concern. Without them, our democracy risks being reduced, in the words of Chief Justice Puno, to the “sovereignty of the deaf and the dumb”.

    We join the entire nation in calling for the immediate safe release of Ms. Drilon and her companions and pray for them and their families.

    The Mindanao People’s Caucus condemns the abduction of its chair, peace advocate Prof. Octavio Dinampo, who was kidnapped with Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN and her crew. According to the MPC statement:

    Prof. Octavio is a credible and well-respected leader from Sulu and a leading peace advocate in Mindanao. 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 Convener 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.

    Just when Drilon and company were kidnapped, the New York Times came out with an article saying that the most serious threats from the Southeast Asian terror networks are on the wane.

    Police Director General Avelino Razon said unverified reports indicate that the kidnappers had asked for ransom ranging from P10 million to P30 million.

    ABS-CBN explained its request for media outfits to hold the story on the abduction of its senior correspondent Ces Oreña-Drilon in Sulu by the Abu Sayyaf group and its decision to enforce a news blackout.

    For those interested in looking deeper into the history and culture of Sulu, the Yuchengco Museum invites the public to the unveiling of the exhibit “Beyond the Currents: The Culture and Power of Sulu” on June 21, Saturday, at 10:30 a.m.

    Beyond the Currents, which runs until September 24, looks into the fascinating story of the forces that consolidated Sulu’s power as central to the trade movements between Europe and China. The museum is located at RCBC Plaza, Corner Ayala & Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenues, Makati. To RSVP, call 889-1234 or e-mail [email protected]

    The exhibit showcases the richness of Sulu’s–and inevitably the Philippines’–history, a timely endeavor now that Sulu is in the news.

    Read more on…

  • Ces Drilon’s Abu Sayyaf Kidnappers Give Ultimatum
  • The Ces Drilon Kidnapping and the Changing Face of Philippine Journalism
  • Ransom for Ces Drilon and Company To Pay or Not to Pay
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    19 thoughts on “Ces Drilon Kidnapping Underscores the Dangers of Going After the News in the Philippines”

    1. Not only is she providing legitimacy to bandits and terrorists, her ransom will provide them with funds for more weapons and bombs. The news blackout will make it easier for ABS-CBN to pay whatever ransom they demand.

    2. That’s a valid point, Clip. ABS-CBN is playing right into the hands of the ASG. Not only will the bandits get a lot of media coverage but a lot of money too. This at a time when their fortunes are at a low point and their activities curtailed. This will give the Abus a big boost. All for want of higher T.V. ratings.

    3. Reports say Ms Drilon went to Sulu to cover ‘something’. I don’t what exactly what it is, but I’m left to think why she had to gamble her life just to get an insider’s scoop. There must be something truly compelling with what she knew beforehand.

    4. For my opinion, i do have a feeling that the government is the government itself is the mastermind behind the abduction of Ces Drilon….if the government will be able to “redeem” Ces and her team from the “abductors”, ABS-CBN will have a debt of grattitude to the administration. Remember that the Lopezes and the Arroyo Administration has many conflicts like that of MERALCO. Just speculating.hahaha

    5. she’s looking for trouble and “scoop”.. right? well.. she definitely found what she’s looking for. problem is, this group is not like the military who has the moral values not to “really hurt” them. masyadong matapang eh..tignan na lang natin ngayon.

    6. i personally believed that there was ransom given to the abductors for the release of ces and her crew. loren stepped in the scene claiming the role of helping in the negotiation and says that there was no ransom. It’s obvious that she was just politicizing.

    7. The World don’t buy it…it’s a TOTAL HOAX and it’s obviously behind this is political rival of the Administration. Just like a T.V. series of the Survivors, Fear Factor or No Guts No Glory, etc. I believe this drama series of kidnapper are well scripted being hired and paid already by some disfunctional politician preparing for presidential election this coming 2010. My most admired journalist Ces Drilon are innocent and have no idea about this so-called Dangerous Game just what she said that someone betrayed them.

    8. My beloved people of the Republic of the Philippines sometimes, please don’t act being naive about this Abbu Sayyaf Group Kidnapping for Ransom worth Php 10+ MILLION demand turn empty handed this out law just like you insult their belief and principle of capable with. Poor thing the team of Ces Drilon always a victim or pa-in ng mga Disfunctional Politician, if you recall the Makati Siege…what’s next this coming Election of 2010 especially what Senator Legarda said your unconditional release from the ASG captors…sounds like another Dangerous Game again for you. Ces, I know you love your job from the bottom of your heart for the sake of filipino (Christian or Muslim) people… I always pray your safety and unharm all about this crazy world lalo na yong mga kagat ng lamok sa gubat ng Mindanao.

    9. They must pay ransom for the security purpose of Ms.Drilon and company…If not it is very hard to convince those abductors to release them.

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