• Former ASG hostage admits siblings paid ransom

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    Zamboanga Sibugay: Freed Abu Sayyaf hostage, Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell, has finally admitted that his siblings raised the ransom money paid for his release, denying claims by his Filipino wife that she sold off their properties in the country to raise the funds.

    His Filipina wife, Miraflor Gutang, 29, had claimed that she paid the ransom that led to Rodwell’s release in March this year.

    Rodwell, who returned to Australia following his release, told news.com.au that the ransom paid to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group was solely raised by Denise Capello and Wayne Rodwell.

    Gutang, the daughter of a farming couple, had related that she sold their house and other properties in Zamboanga Sibugay province and sought help from relatives to raise $94,000 for Rodwell’s release.

    Her brother allegedly helped her deliver the money in Zamboanga City following a series of negotiations headed by Basilan provincial deputy governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul.

    Rodwell, a former soldier in the Australian army, was kidnapped by gunmen who posed as policemen in December 2011 from his seaside house in Ipil town. He was released on March 2.

    The Abu Sayyaf originally demanded $2 million.

    Gutang—who previously complained to the police that she was beaten up by Rodwell—left her husband days before he was kidnapped.

    Rodwell, a prolific traveler, married Gutang in June 2011 in Ipil town after buying a house in October of the same year in Pangi village.

    Insp. Edwin Verzon, then police chief of Zamboanga Sibugay’s Ipil town, confirmed this and said that the woman had filed two abuse complaints against Rodwell.

    Gutang’s family also said that Rodwell maltreated his wife.

    “She filed two complaints with us and she was also planning to bring it to the attention of the Australian embassy in Manila, but we don’t know if she pursued it,” Verzon said.

    Days after Rodwell was kidnapped, Gutang had told the media that they could not afford to pay any ransom because they were poor.

    Her 66-year old father, Loreto, works in a farm and her mother, Salvadora, 61, stays at home in their ancestral house in Naga town.

    Rodwell’s house in Ipil town has not been sold contrary to Gutang’s claim, but was rented by a Filipino family for P2,000 a month.

    Jeffrey Mabago, Gutang’s tenant, claimed that Gutang told him that her brother is moving into the house.

    “That’s what she told us. Her brother is moving in and that she will refund us our deposits,” he said, adding that Rodwell still owned the house.

    “As far as I know this house still belongs to them and was never sold,” Mabago said.

    Rodwell’s room is still locked and the door reinforced with iron grills, just as how it was when the gunmen barged into the house and dragged the foreigner to the bushes outside that leads to the sea 15 months ago.

    The barbed wires that once surrounded the two-room house were gone, but a torn yellow strip of tape used by the police to secure the compound is still hanging by the wooden gate.

    President Benigno Aquino 3rd previously ordered an investigation on the payment of ransom to the rebel group, saying that he has not seen any reports on the Rodwell case.

    “I haven’t seen a report from the concerned [authorities, the] PNP [Philippine National Police] anti-kidnapping group and others,” he said.

    Aquino said that the government has a strict no-ransom policy.

    “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he said.

    Nothing was heard from the authorities about the ransom payment until the news broke out in Australia over the weekend.

    Rodwell said that he also filed a divorce petition against Gutang and told her that she can keep his house in Ipil.

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