(UPDATE 2) Kidnapped school principal beheaded in Jolo
MANILA - A school principal who was kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul town was found beheaded Monday morning in Jolo, Sulu.
Police recovered the severed head of school principal Gabriel Canizares, principal of Kanague Elementary School in Patikul, beside a gasoline station in downtown Jolo at 5:30 a.m.
Senior Superintendent Tony Mendoza, Sulu provincial police director, said the head was turned over to Canizares' sister, Annabel. He said police are still looking for the victim's body.
Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin said miscommunication on the ransom for Canizares' freedom led to the victim's murder.
"There was a miscommunication on the ransom. The kidnappers wanted P2 million and then the offer went down to P500,000 but the family could not afford it," he told ANC's "News at 8." Mendoza said the family only gave P150,000 to the kidnappers.
"The people of Jolo are condemning this dastardly act," Amin said.
The mayor confirmed that the abductors are members of the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group. Military sources earlier identified the kidnappers as sub-commanders Juhurin Hussin and Amlum Abdun alias Palo. Both reportedly work under Radulan Sahiron.
Canizares was on board a passenger jeepney along with other teachers when they were flagged down by a group of armed men at Kilometer 7, Barangay Tanum in Patikul town last October 19.
Canizares was the seventh public educator kidnapped this year. The other six teachers were abducted earlier this year in Zamboanga, and were released last May and September.
Shock, outrage over heinous act
President Arroyo on Monday condemned the school official's murder and ordered the military and the Philippine National Police to conduct a massive manhunt against the perpetrators.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said the President "sympathizes and deeply condoles" with Canizares's family. "The President has instructed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP to form a task group to investigate this matter...The President also instructed the AFP and the PNP to do a massive manhunt [for] the people responsible for this heinous crime," he said.
The Department of Education and Alliance of Concerned Teachers said they were shocked by the murder and asked the government to go after the criminals.
"The entire DepEd family is shocked and grieves with the family of one of our best-performing principals, Mr. Gabriel Canizares. A key catalyst in teacher trainings with Synergia in Sulu, he is a great loss to efforts to improve the quality of education of our children in the area," a DepEd statement said.
It added: "We condemn this heinous act committed against the people of ARMM. Violence creates more sufferings and sabotaging education by harming teachers will have dire consequences in the attainment of peace and progress."
ACT national chairman Antonio Tinio said the tragic event highlights the dangers faced by public school teachers and other government employees who provide front-line social services to the most impoverished communities in Mindanao.
Tinio criticized the Arroyo administration for its "abysmal record at protecting teachers serving in southern Mindanao."
"This year alone, there have been two other kidnapping incidents targeting teachers," he said, citing the kidnapping of three teachers in Zamboanga City last January and of another three teachers in Zamboanga Sibugay last March. In both cases, the teachers were held in captivity for months before being released.