Philippines' Pacquiao shocked at militant kidnap claim

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Philippines Pacquiao shocked at militant kidnap claim

Manila - I live my life like every day is the last so I have no fear, says Pacquiao


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Published: Thu 28 Apr 2016, 3:48 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Apr 2016, 6:08 PM

Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao expressed shock on Thursday at President Benigno Aquino's claim that militants planned to kidnap him, and said the alleged plot should not have been made public.

Philippine troops attack militants holding foreign hostages Philippine warplanes on Thursday attacked militants holding 20 foreign hostages on a remote southern island, but there was no sign of the captives, the military said.
Government forces said they rained artillery fire on Abu Sayyaf gunmen on a mountainous area of Jolo island, as planes and helicopters flew low over the jungle terrain dropping bombs.
"As a result of the bombardments... they were able to occupy the former places occupied by the Abu Sayyaf that resulted in the recovery of (Ridsdel's) torso," military spokesman Colonel Noel Detoyato told reporters in Manila.
He said local civilians told authorities that 14 gunmen were killed, but no bodies were reported to have been discovered and his tally could not be independently verified.
Aquino released a statement on Wednesday saying Abu Sayyaf, a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang that has pledged allegiance to the Deash group and beheaded a Canadian hostage this week, had planned to abduct Pacquiao or his children.
"I was alarmed when he announced... the Abu Sayyaf wanted to kidnap me. I'm surprised because all Filipinos are my friends. I love them, especially the Muslims," Pacquiao said at his residence in Manila.
Pacquiao said he had responded to Aquino's statement by taking security measures to protect himself as well as his wife and five children, who are in his hometown of General Santos.
"We added security for my family and me," he said.
General Santos is in the conflict-wracked southern Philippine region of Mindanao, where an array of militant groups are based and a separatist insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1970s.

Image via Facebook
The Abu Sayyaf's main stronghold is about 400 kilometres (250 miles) away from General Santos.
Pacquiao was in Manila, more than 1,000 kilometres north of General Santos, as part of his campaign to win a Senate seat in next month's national elections.
Pacquiao said he was bewildered by Aquino's statement, having not been informed before the president went public with the alleged plot.
"If it came from an intelligence report, it should have been kept secret and need not be announced. And why just now? We have to study this," said Pacquiao, whose unprecedented eight world titles have made him one of the Philippines' richest men.
Aquino made the announcement after the severed head of Canadian John Ridsdel was dumped in the streets of Jolo island, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.
The group, which is believed to have only a few hundred armed followers, is believed to be holding more than 20 other foreigners captive, including 18 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors abducted over the past month.
Aquino also said the militants had threatened to kill him and planned to kidnap his sister, who is a popular television personality, in an effort to gain Daesh favour and funding.

Image via Twitter
Pacquiao said he was not scared for his own safety and would continue hitting the campaign trail, where he attracts huge, chaotic crowds.
"I live my life like every day is the last so I have no fear. God is with me," he said.
Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma declined to comment directly on Pacquiao's complaints he had not been informed about the alleged kidnapping plot before Aquino's public announcement.
"(The) government has taken, and continues to take, all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our citizens and thwart acts of terror, intimidation and destabilisation against them," Coloma told AFP in a text message.

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