Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kidnap for Ransom,First Quarter of 2011,Part VII:Rene Drapiza,Habib Sacaria and Nora Dicay

The waters between the Zamboanga Peninsula and the island province of Basilan are filled with several dozen inhabited islands of varying sizes. Most subsist on piracy and/or smuggling on one level or another. The peninsula was traditionally the home of the Subanon (Subanen) Tribe. Repeated depradations by Islamicised Tribes like the Tausug of Jolo Island,the Iranun (Ilanun) of the Mindanowan coast to the south of the peninsula and the Sama (Samal) Tribe of the southern coast of Mindanao and most of the Sulu Islands pushed the Subanen inland and upwards as has been the case with all Animist Tribes on the island.

Within a century of the Islamic Advent on Mindanao the Spanish began trying to position themselves as the regional force to be reckoned with. Colonising key points upon the peninsula they formed what would one day become Zamboanga City. Over the centuries the city became an insular bastion of Hispanic Culture. Indeed, long after the Spanish pidgin now called Chavacano (Chabacano) fell by the wayside on Luzon and Mindoro it hung on in Zamboanga and is today an official language of the city, the only location in the Philippines where more than a handful can speak any form of Spanish, let alone understand it.

Along with Chavacanos, or Zambaguenos as they are usually called, are the Christianised Tribes like the Cebuanos (the largest Christian Tribe on Mindanao), the Ilonggo (most common Christian Tribe of Central Mindanao) and the smattering of Northern ethnicities like the Tagalog, Ilokano and Panganisan courtesy of the Huk-Era Pacification Programmes devised by the CIA's Landsdale and executed by his acolyte and one-time President Ramon Magsaysay. Although Huk Surrenderees weren't the first Christianised Filipinos to be settled in Central Mindanao they did form a huge demographic and the ready-made towns constructed for them in what is now North Cotabato,South Cotabato,Davao Oriental and Sultan Kudarat Provinces ran roughshod over the local demographical balance, as much as any existed anyway.

So,today in Zamboanga one is just as likely to be discussing an Ilonggo as a Chavacano when discussing "Christian" residents. The Filipino Muslims tend to be on the lower end of the socio-economic scale due to an opposition to all forms of secular education (for the most part). They see Filipino Christians as interlopers, making a lot more money than they could ever hope to make and it breeds resentment heaped upon resentment. This is how most of the pirates and kidnappers (virtually all Muslim) rationalise the targetting of their fellow Filipinos.

On January 2nd, 2011 Rene Drapiza was finally released at the municipal pier in the municipality of Payao's Barangay Bulawan and made his way home to a family that had had to spend a very somber holiday season without their family patriarch. Back on November 9th, 2010 Drapiza was keeping busy as he usually does. Despite owning a fair amount of rice land, a rice mill and numerous fish ponds the retiree kept busy every morning driving one of his small ferries that ply the waters off of Zamboanga Sibugay Province. After all, it was Mr.Drapiza's ferries that had enabled him to build a decent nest egg for himself and more importantly, his large extended family.

In September, two months before that fateful November day, he had been checking on one of his fishponds when he saw a dog hunting fish. For those unaware, "fish ponds" are used in aquaculture in farming fish. In Mr.Drapiza's case he farms freshwater fish, Tilapia (St.Peter's Fish) and so he has half hectare sized ponds which, when his stock is mature, are absolutely full of fish breaking the surface. It is extremely simple for dogs, as well as rats, to hunt along the edges of the water. Most owners, or their caretakers, carry rifles to kill whatever animals are taking advantage along the pond's perimeter. Seeing a large dog, Mr.Drapiza raised his 12 gauge shotgun and killed it.

A day or two later a Muslim neighbour, Abdul Basser Sakilan, discovered his dog was dead and that his neighbour had shot it. Most Muslims absolutely abhor all canines and Filipino Muslims are in no way excepted. To say that Mr.Sakilan was absolutely livid would be an understatement. The two men nearly came to blows before being separated by concerned neighbours. Then, one morning in October (also 2010) as Mr.Drapiza nosed his ferry into a mooring at the town pier in the municipality of Payao's Barangay Bulawan none other than Mr.Sakilan happened to be ambling by. Once again the enraged man tried to attack Mr.Drapiza but was restrained by soldiers on security detail.

Fast forward to November 9th, 2010, Mr.Drapiza was piloting his ferry off the coast of Kabasalan en route to Barangay Bulawan in Payao. As the boat crossed the municipal line into the town of Siay the four man crew with Mr.Drapiza noticed two pumpboats (local term for motorised skiffs) coming fast off of an outlying island. As the ferry crossed into Sitio Cabug in Barangay Laih both pumpboats pulled parallel on each side of the ferry and seven gunmen in bonnets (local term for baclavas aka"ski masks") and all carrying M14s and M16s boarded. As 1 of the masked gunmen stepped aboard the ferry he tripped and accidently discharged a round from his M16. 18 year old passenger Charles Navarro Campogan of Pagadian City's Barangay Santo Nino took 1 round to his thigh but luckily it missed an artery.

Ordering all four crewmen and eighteen passengers to lie facedown two of the gunmen roughly grabbed Mr.Drapiza, taking him into one of the two pumpboats. The other five gunmen then robbed everybody aboard the ferry before rushing back to the pumpboats and shoving off. As the two smaller craft steered towards the town of Tungawan the ferry turned around to return to its point of origin, the town pier in the town of Kabasalan where they reported the KFR, or Kidnap for Ransom of Rene Drapiza and sought medical treatment for the wounded passenger, young Mr.Campogan.

In the end the Drapiza family ended up paying P1.5 Million (US33,000). That was one expensive dog!

On Monday, January 17th, 2011 Habib Sacaria and his wife Nora Dicay were en route to their home in the municipality of Parang in Maguindanao Province. Having spent a tiring day shopping in the town of Malabang in the adjacent province of Lanao del Sur they looked forward to a relaxing evening at home. As their Toyota mini-van entered Sitio Kampo #2 in Barangay Sarmiento in the town of Matanog over the Maguindanao Provincial line they found themselves at an impromptu checkpoint at which they were forced to move over and allow gunmen to drive them into captivity.

The next day,January 18th, 2011 at 5PM the couple were released having spent a grand total of 21 hours in their assailant's custody. Apparently Ms.Dicay is the sister of an extremely high ranking member of the BIAF,or Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces as the armed wing of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is known. Apparently the KFR Group that had contracted the kidnapping on behalf of the Pentagon Gang,the pre-eminent KFR Group, made a serious error in judgement. Released without any ransom at all and with profuse and sheepish apologies to boot it ended a whole lot better than it started.

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