While in Negros Oriental I received a text from my wife regarding an email from my friend Nimesh in India. The message was regarding Biju Kolara Veettil who was in the Philippines visiting his Filipino wife’s family. They had gone to visit the relatives in Sulu province to find the building was stormed by at least four members of Abu Sayyaf and now he is missing. His family are totally devastated and struggling to get information from the Philippines even though they are in contact with the Prime Minister in India. There was also a Malaysian truck driver abducted in Sulu last month as well.
Its the odd thing how these pieces of information slip through the media rather quietly but also the fact that the Abu Sayyaf have worked outside their native regions before kidnapping from other areas. If you search around the internet you will come across a lot of information on various kidnappings.
Now there is a few things I would like to say here the first one being that a lot of the issues are related to specific regions but also there is a risk all over the country of some description. Thinking that your safe is how most people end up getting caught up in a kidnapping and although its often shown as these terrorist groups being disorganized rabbles they are organized militia’s that have managed to survive here long term. If you start looking at the NPA and other factions operating in the Philippines some have had ongoing struggles for over 30 years and still here. You get conflicting information as the Philippines government will say they are on the decline where things like Journeyman will say the numbers are increasing which with a poor economy and a rich poor divide increasing I would go with Journeyman on this.
Minimize your risk and stay out of regions that are known to be dangerous. Not sure ask as people will tell you where is dangerous or not and also if there are known activities in the area. Most people are only hero’s until something goes wrong and generally I would say just be cautious.
At the same time the Philippines can be a beautiful place to live and visit its a small number of active groups that can make things dangerous. The Philippines had the kidnapping capital of the world badge before although not sure if this statistic still stands with the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I do hope Biju Kolara Veettil gets returned to his family unharmed as he has 2 children and was only on a visit here from Qatar. No threat to the country or these terrorist organizations. At the same time Abu Sayyaf are well known for demanding ransoms as well as killing their hostages I just hope we see a positive ending to this unhappy event.