As It Happens

Journalist recalls her kidnapping by group that executed Canadian John Ridsdel

Two kidnappings and two very different outcomes. After Canadian hostage John Ridsdel is killed at the hands of Abu Sayyef, a Filipina reporter recalls her own captivity with the militant group.
Philippine journalist Ces Drilon is seen talking about her ordeal in 2008. Drilon and two other hostages walked out of a forest on Jolo, the southern island where she was held. (JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Journalist Ces Drilon knows better than most what John Ridsdel went through being held hostage by the militant group Abu Sayyef. In 2008, she was kidnapped and held for ransom too.

On Monday, Ridsdel was executed by his hostage-takers. Driolon's situation ended instead with her release after 10 days.

In the end, it's all about money. They don't really have any ideology. They're just after money.- Ces Drilon, journalist once held hostage by Abu Sayyef

Drilon says memories of her ordeal came flooding back to her after she heard of the killing of Ridsdel,

"It was eight years ago, but it seems like it just happened," she tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

Drilon was going to interview members of the group when the leader told her that she was going to be held for ransom.

"During my time, the threat of beheading was always there, but in the end, I thought they were just bluffing."

She is shocked that the Canadian hostage was killed because, in her case, several deadlines for ransom payment were missed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the killing of John Ridsdel on Monday. Ridsdel was one of two Canadians held hostage since September by the al-Qaeda-linked group in the Philippines.

Canadian John Ridsdel was killed by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the Philippines Monday. (@JBR10000/Twitter)

Drilon says the kidnappers motivation is only about one thing.

"In the end, it's all about money. They don't really have any ideology. They're just after money."

Drilon says the days when she was held hostage were filled with boredom and uncertainty.

"There's not much food. There's not much to do. It's horrible. You can't walk around. There's no place to go."

Journalist Ces Drilon narrates her ordeal during a press conference in Zamboanga City, Philippines in 2008. (Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images)

Drilon also understands why a rescue isn't always practical. She says villagers in the local area wouldn't dare betray  Abu Sayyef for fear of reprisal,

"In my case, I was hoping for a rescue, but that would have been very dangerous. And I think that's what the government troops are trying to do now."

The Philippine army has been pursuing the group for several months. Speculation from a number of news outlets says pressure is ramping up after the execution of Ridsdel. The last clash between government forces and Abu Sayyef left 18 soldiers dead and many others wounded.


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