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Palace condemns abduction of two foreign nationals in Tawi-Tawi

Malacanang condemned the kidnapping of two foreign nationals in Tawi-Tawi on Wednesday as it vowed to speed up the resolution of the case and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We condemn the abduction; and the national and local governments, as well as all agencies concerned are working to ensure the resolution of the situation, the recovery and release of the men who remain in the hands of their captors, and the bringing to justice of the lawless elements involved,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement on Thursday.

Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 47, and Dutchman Ewold Horn, 52, were kidnapped while on a bird watching trip in Sitio Look-Look, in the village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. Their Filipino guide, Ivan Sarenas, escaped from the gunmen.

Valte said the Tawi-Tawi crisis management committee was immediately activated with Gov. Sadikul Sahali in charge of resolving the kidnapping case. Governor Sahali will oversee all of the police and military operations.

“Joint elements of the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Navy, and Philippine Marines are now conducting search operations. For its part, the Department of Foreign Affairs has notified the embassies of the nationals concerned, and will keep them abreast of all relevant information and updates on the situation,” Valte said.

Valte likewise advised tourists visiting the country to inquire with the Department of Foreign Affairs or their own embassies, regarding advisories on conditions that may affect their travel plans.

Kidnappings in Mindanao, particularly of foreign nationals have been a major concern of Philippine authorities. Many of these cases were perpetrated by the Mindanao-based Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which was founded in the 1990s. ASG is also being blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the country.

In 2000, the group kidnapped 21 western tourists from a Malaysian island resort and brought them by boat to Jolo. The hostages were released after ransom amounting to millions of dollars was paid.

The Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped three Americans the following year, along with a group of Filipino tourists. During a rescue attempt, one of the Americans was beheaded and another was killed.
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