Samal resort owners urged: Boost security, let police in
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao del Norte officials have urged Samal Island resort owners to beef up their security and allow police access to their premises to deter future kidnapping incidents in the tourist area.
Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario said in a news briefing on Wednesday, September 23, that local officials made the appeal two days after the abduction of 4 people – 3 foreigners and a Filipino woman – at the Holiday Oceanview Resort on the famed Island Garden City by still unknown suspects.
Del Rosario said the Samal Island city government has called on all the resort operators to, "if possible, increase the security guards and allow entry of authorities to their establishments specially those catering to foreign tourists."
The governor also said he thought better resort security had been in place since 2001, when members of the Abu Sayyaf stormed Pearl Farm, also on Samal Island. In that incident, two employees were killed but the group failed to take hostages.
Phlippine National Police Region 11 director Chief Superintendent Wendy Rosario said the PNP will also recommend to the Regional Peace and Order Council "that all establishments give access to police authorities specially on security concerns."
Rosario noted that police are denied entry to resort premises "because they say these are private establishments."
He said the resistance of resort owners to give access to police remains a problem, but this time, authorities will do what needs to be done.
"Ayaw nila magpapasok, pero 'pag may problema na na ganito, sa amin puputok (They don't want to give the police access to their premises but when a problem like this happens, we're the ones blamed for it)," Rosario said.
Lax resort security
Authorities noted the lax security at Holiday Oceanview Resort, where the abduction took place. The vast resort located along the Camudmud shoreline in Babak District had only two security personnel armed with .38 caliber pistol when the incident happened Monday night.
Davao del Norte police chief Senior Superintendent Samuel Gadingan told Rappler: "How can they react? There were 20 suspects/kidnappers, with only two security guards."
As of Wednesday, September 23, the police personnel deployed to the area were increased from 90 to over 120, said Gadingan.
Police have yet to identify the group behind the abduction of Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkinstad, 56; Canadian guests John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50; and the latter's Filipina girlfriend only identified as "Tess." (READ: Aquino: New group likely behind Samal kidnapping)
Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Lualhati Antonino said in a statement on Wednesday that the incident is isolated and not reflective of the entire situation in Mindanao.
Antonino said Mindanao has sustained increased foreign and domestic tourist arrivals, even with travel advisories issued by foreign governments to its citizens against the islanf group due to isolated incidents of bombings and armed clashes.
“Mindanao, has time and again demonstrated resiliency and can always rise above challenges,” she said. – Rappler.com