SAN Juan Representative JV Ejercito Estrada urged the government to immediately put an end to the kidnappings in Mindanao especially of foreign nationals as these hinder the growth of the region’s tourism sector.
The young lawmaker noted that kidnapping incidents in southern Philippines prevent foreign and domestic tourists from exploring the wondrous travel destinations in the region.
“Safety remains as the top concern for tourists who are on the lookout for travel destinations. The government must assure tourists that they are safe in our country,” Ejercito Estrada said.
He cited the case of Australian Warren Rodwell who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group in 2011 and remains in captivity. Canberra issued an advisory discouraging Australians from traveling to Mindanao following the release of a two-minute “proof-of-life” video of Rodwell on Dec. 16.
“Travel bans to the Philippines tend to undermine the efforts of the government to promote the country as a tourist destination,” the solon said.
Rodwell is just one of the foreign nationals who were abducted allegedly by the Abu Sayyaf in recent years. The terrorist group usually demands a ransom for the release of their captives. In the case of Rodwell, the Abu Sayyaf asked for $2 million in exchange for the Australian’s freedom.
“While I approve of the government’s stance against negotiating with terrorists, these kidnappings must not be left unresolved,” Ejercito Estrada said. “We can offer higher rewards for information that could lead us to where the victim is being held.”
January 7, 2013