Jolo 1

UNIDENTIFIED GUNMEN abducted two Moro filmmakers who were working on an independent film project in troubled Sulu province in the Southern Philippines over the weekend.

Len Manriquez, operations head of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON), identified the two as Linda and Nadjoua Bansil, whom she described as human rights defenders who make films “on issues of human rights, the Moro culture, and extractive industries such as mining.”

The two sisters are also members of the PECOJON Peace and Conflict Journalism Network, having trained in 2006 and 2007 in conflict sensitive reporting.

“They are Moro women concerned for the plight and preservation of the culture of the Moro people,” Manriquez said.

Manriquez said Nadj had wanted to do a story on coffee growers in Mindanao, and had taken her sister Linda with her.

The sisters arrived in Jolo June 20, and were hosted and escorted by the Sulu Sultanate Darul Islam, or the Sultan of Sulu’s men. The sisters then traveled to nearby Patikul town last June 22 with some of the Sultanate’s men as escorts, where they were blocked by armed men.

Manriquez quoted a representative of the Sultanate as saying that they could not prevent the kidnapping since the escorts were not armed. The kidnappers then took the two sisters and disappeared into the jungle.

“As of this writing, the sisters are still held captives by the kidnappers in Sulu,” Manriquez said. “It is not yet verified if the captors are from the Abu Sayyaf or from another kidnap-for-ransom group.”

Manriquez said the sisters had produced the film Bohe last year, that tells the story of a group of Badjaos who found home in a tiny patch of land in Luzon that they christened “Badjawan Island.” The film was screened in the 2012 Cinemalaya Film Festival and the Cebu Documentary Film Festival. The film was also nominated in the Gawad Urian Awards.

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