ZAMBOANGA CITY – A senior Sulu provincial official has denied reports that two Muslim filmmakers who were kidnapped by rebels had coordinated with local authorities.
Sisters Linda and Nadjoua Bansil were seized on June 22 while filming in Patikul town together with members of the Sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam.
Their brother, Mohammed Bansil, told TV 5 that several people in Sulu – among them Fazlur-Rahman Abdulla, executive director of the Sulu Area Coordinating Center; and Dr. Sahiron Amirul, the provincial cooperative officer – have assured the safety of his sisters.
But Abdulla said he did not know any of the sisters and have not met them personally.
“I do not know them personally and have not met with any of them. Had they contacted or visited us, we could have provided ample security and assisted them in their filming. I am not blaming them for what happened, but just wanted to clear things up regarding the media statement of the Bansil family,” he told The Manila Times.
He said somebody may have been using his name to escape the blame and liabilities for the kidnapping of the Bansil sisters. “We are so willing to assist anybody who wanted to film or shoot in Sulu provided they should coordinate with the provincial authorities for their own safety,” Abdulla said.
Bansil said other personalities who assured the safety of his sisters were Yazir Rajim, of the Sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam and Nash Abduhadi, a coordinator of Kusug Bata Sug.
“Without the assurances of their Tausug friends, we would never have allowed Nadj and Lin to go to Sulu, knowing from news reports and some friends about the risks,” Bansil told TV 5.
“We have many Tausug friends and we trust them. I speak Tausug fluently. We took their assurances as guarantee that nothing untoward would happen to Nadj and Lin; that they would protect my sisters from any harm,” he added.
According to Sultan Bantilan Muhammad Mu’izzuddin II, of the Sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam, the sisters were with sultanate members conducting ocular inspection of some agricultural-based economic self-reliance projects in Patikul when the kidnapping occurred.
He said the kidnappers are demanding P50 million ransom from the Algerian embassy through the sisters’ mother, Fatiha Elouali, who is an Algerian.
Algeria has no embassy in Manila.
The ransom claims could not be immediately confirmed and police and military officials have not provided any single briefing or reports to journalists about the progress of their search for the hostages. Bansil’s family also has not made any statement about the ransom demand.