THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published — Thursday 27 December 2012
Last update 27 December 2012 12:57 am
MANILA: An Australian man held hostage by militants in southern Philippine jungles for more than a year has appeared in a video looking thin and haggard as proof that he is alive while negotiations for his release drag on.
Warren Richard Rodwell, who was kidnapped from his seashore house and taken by speedboat to nearby mountainous islands where the militants are hiding, said on the video that he was being held in isolation and knew little of what was going on around him. He said he understood there are negotiations under way.
“This video clip is to say that I’m alive. I am waiting to be released,” he said, then added a few second later: “I personally hold no hope at all for being released.”
“The people who are around me normally don’t speak English. I understand something is happening but I don’t know when. I do not expect to be released before the year 2013, at the earliest,” said the 54-year-old, dressed in a black shirt and holding a copy of a local newspaper.
Philippine intelligence officials said yesterday that they believe the video, which has been circulated on YouTube, is authentic.
Separately, angry residents beat a man to death and threw rocks at firefighters after a shantytown fire left thousands of people homeless, and another Christmas Day blaze in the Philippine capital left seven people dead, officials said yesterday.
A resident was beaten to death by his neighbors after shouting that he started Tuesday’s shantytown fire in suburban San Juan city, Senior Fire Officer Domingo Cabog said.
The man was reportedly drunk and was not responsible for the fire. Cabog said the fire started in a house where children were playing with lighted candles.
Some 5,000 people were left homeless and 13 people were hurt in the shantytown. The injured included two firefighters and a volunteer hit by rocks that were thrown by residents who were impatient and tried to grab fire hoses to save their own shanties, Cabog said.
As firefighters struggled to penetrate the narrow alleys, one of them was mauled by a mob and rescued by a police officer, Cabog said. Two fire trucks also were damaged in the violence.