Kidnapping victims now in Sulu, says Duterte

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From left: Kjartan Sekkingstad, John Ridsel, Robert Hall, and Marithes "Tess" Flor

Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte confirmed on Sunday (September 27)  that the four people kidnapped at the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort on Samal Island last September 21 are now in Sulu.

The four kidnapped victims were identified as Kjartan Sekkingstad, Norwegian operations manager of the resort; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Marithes Flore, the Filipina girlfriend of Hall.

In his weekly television program Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa, Duterte said that intelligence sources confirmed the arrival of the kidnappers and their victims in Sulu.

"They are now in Sulu," he said. "They are already there. They have entered. We have also verified from all sources and indicate that they are now in Sulu.

Also read: Samal Island kidnapping: Mining consultant could be primary target

"As to what is their objective here since they have not yet made any ransom demands, we will never know until such time that they will communicate with the authorities."

He also confirmed that the Samal kidnappers are "allied with the Abu Sayyaf Group."

On Saturday, Duterte flew to Zamboanga City to help find resolution to the kidnapping.

He appealed to the kidnappers to release the victims the soonest possible time.

Earlier reports showed an intelligence source indicated that "Tanum group from Patikul were the ones who forcibly took the foreigners from Samal Island."

Tanum is a village in Patikul, Sulu that's been known as a lair of the Abu Sayyaf Group, which has been involved in several kidnappings.

The intelligence source, as stated in a report, revealed that the kidnappers and their victims arrived aboard a white speedboat in Barangay Kaunayan in Patikul, Sulu around 12:30 p.m. of Tuesday, September 22, or roughly 13 hours after the abduction.

Related: AFP chief mum on whether Sulu-based group is behind Samal Island kidnapping

The intelligence report was however raw and is still subject for verification, as stated by the source.

Asked for their reaction on Duterte's seeming confirmation that the kidnap victims are indeed in Sulu now, Chief Supt. Federico Dulay, head of the Special Investigative Task Group Oceanview, refused to confirm nor deny the suspicion.

He said what they were focusing on now was the gathering of enough evidence so they could file charges against the kidnappers.

"We are receiving many reports and gathering additional information for the validation of said reports. Hopefully we can gather enough evidence to support the filing of cases. We ask for your understanding, considering the sensitivity of this matter, we have to take into account the safety of the victims," Dulay said.

Also read: Kidnappers, victims still within Eastern Mindanao - military

Army Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, also did not confirm nor deny the information. He just said that, if Duterte had confirmed such, then it could be based on hard evidence.

Based on the SITG Oceanview's latest report, the kidnappers have also taken the iPod and iPhone of a couple in the said resort but did not bring along with them when they left the resort.

The said gadgets have SIM packs with them that could be traced by the authorities to determine their location.