• MAY 19, 2015 12:30AM

 A FILIPINO policeman has been arrested over the kidnapping-for-ransom of Australian Warren Rodwell.

Jun Malban went on the run after he was charged with kidnapping Rodwell from his home in a southern Philippine coastal town in December 2011. He was detained in Malaysia early this month and deported back to the Philippines on Friday last week, national police anti-kidnapping unit head Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo told reporters.

1-jun malban

The abductors posed as policemen when they seized Mr Rodwell and demanded US$2 million ($2.5 million) for his release. Mr Rodwell was released 15 months later in return for a ransom that a local politician says was worth about US$100,000, although such a payment has never been officially acknowledged by the Philippine or Australian governments. Spt Fajardo said Malban was believed to have been working with Rodwell’s kidnappers and brokered a ransom.

“Rodwell identified Malban as the negotiator of the Abu Sayyaf during his captivity,” he said.


Malban, who had worked for a southern Philippine police unit that provides bodyguards to civilians under threat, is a cousin of Abu Sayyaf leader Khair Mundos, he said. Mundos, who had a US$500,000 United States government reward on his head, was arrested in a rundown Muslim quarter near Manila airport in June last year. The US government described him as a “key leader and financier” of the Abu Sayyaf.

3 Endurance WR

Mr Rodwell — a former ADF soldier and self-professed “world nomad” — looked online and abroad for love, a search that led him in to petite Filipina Miraflor Gutang, 25 years his junior. After a whirlwind romance, Mr Rodwell packed up his things and travelled to Mindanao in June 2011, one of the most dangerous places in the world for westerners. Only six months into the marriage, Mr Rodwell was relaxing at his new home near the seaside town of Ipil when he was ambushed by armed terrorists dressed as police officers and taken hostage.

Sapper Warren Rodwell Freedom of The City March Liverpool 1979

“We had to walk two or three kilometres through rice fields. They were behind me trying to hit me with the butt of the rifle and kick me to move me. The guy said ‘run and we will kill you’. I was in front and by the time we eventually got to a river and into a boat, I realised I was being kidnapped.” The gunmen wore military uniforms and their M16 rifles were plastered with police insignia.

asg cartoon

The former Australian soldier knew to stay calm and do as he was told when they forced him into a stolen community boat. Filipino police identified the al-Qaeda linked group Abu Sayyaf as being involved in Rodwell’s kidnapping. During his ordeal, Mr Rodwell’s captors moved him from island to island to elude pursuit. He was not shackled or caged but was always closely watched by the gunmen. For 15 months, Rodwell fought to stay sane amid the constant threat of being shot or beheaded. He was moved between 30 different locations within the Basilan Islands as his captors tried to evade the military and other militant groups.

4 Xray

Nine days before Christmas 2012, a tired and gaunt Mr Rodwell appeared in a grainy You Tube video clip, telling the world that after a year in captivity he held no hopes of rescue. “I personally hold no hope at all for being released,’’ he said. “I do not trust Abu Sayyaf. I do not trust the Australian Government. I just don’t trust anyone.” When a ransom of $94,600 was paid on February 3, 2013, the captors kept their hostage.


“The delay was that between the different levels (of the group) some people were trying to do a side deal on their own,” Mr Rodwell said. “Apparently it was at the insistence of the vice governor that they must release me otherwise he wouldn’t help them in the future with any cases.” As the tide went out on March 22 and darkness fell, Mr Rodwell was put on a boat. After about two hours at sea, he was transferred to a smaller fishing boat and taken to shore. “The fisherman paddled it to shore and told me to get out. I was told to start walking and say ‘please help me, please help me’.” He was spotted by Pagadian wharf workers in the early hours of the next morning and taken to the local police station. It was now March 23.

5 Emaciated

He was then transported to the US military base at Zamboanga for treatment before being flown Manila to recuperate. During this time he decided against a reunion with his Filipino wife, although he said he did not believe his estranged wife was involved in his abduction. “These Filipinos just love to talk. It’s quite possible that with Miraflor, being a bit loose-lipped, that might have helped with the information being disseminated about me being a foreigner and where I was living. It’s just a lack of prudence but these things happen.”

5 Complacent WR Red

Interviewed ahead of the release of his memoir in 2014, Mr Rodwell said: “My story will certainly make it clear that I was foolish.” “As I found out afterwards there were warnings on Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade sites about the greater area but at the time I read it and put in the local context I thought it said avoid travelling in there if you’re not already there kind of thing. “I’d had experience living in areas where there tends to just be local people. I usually just do my own thing and try to blend in with the environment. I wasn’t trying to discover myself or that sort of thing. But I became complacent, which I think we all do no matter how worldly we are. Sometimes it’s hard to really determine what the dangers are.”

2 Whirlwind Romance

472 Days Captive of Abu Sayyaf — The Survival of Australian Warren Rodwell — written with independent researcher Dr Bob East — is based upon recorded interviews with the AFP upon release and details how Mr Rodwell was moved between about 30 different locations within the Basilan Islands as his captors tried to evade the military and other militant groups. “Bob did a PhD on Abu Sayyaf. He has pinpointed locations I was in and added historical stuff,” Mr Rodwell said. “The book is incisive. I’m satisfied that what’s being presented is accurate enough.” The story is part warning to other intrepid travellers, part tale of resilience. “When all is said and done, what really sustains you has to be your attitude and mental health,” he said.

WR Biography

Founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, the Abu Sayyaf has gained international notoriety for kidnapping sprees that target locals and foreigners in the Muslim-majority southern Philippines.

The Philippines’ lowly paid police force has an enduring reputation for corruption and it is not unusual for officers to be accused of involvement in kidnappings or other crimes related to earning more money.


GALLERY : Warren Rodwell 2015

Click for Warren Rodwell website

Warren Rodwell 19-11173330_10205489873580065_3122929785133527177_n

LIBERAL PARTY Leader Tony Abbott comments on Warren Rodwell

Mr Abbott, the Australian man in the Philippines, Warren Rodwell, has released a proof of life video pleading for help from the Ambassador. Should the Government be doing more to help?

This is a delicate and dangerous situation with a human life in the balance. I believe the Government is doing everything it reasonably can and it naturally in these circumstances has the full support of the Opposition.

Tony Abbott

Do you support the Government helping to raise a ransom?

I’m just not going to comment on the details of this situation. I’m not going to comment on particular demands that may have been made, particular measures that may be in contemplation. It’s a very difficult, delicate, dangerous situation. A human life is in the balance and I think the less public commentary the better.



The Northern Daily Leader  ( founded in 1876 ) , was previously published as The Tamworth Daily Observer, The Daily Observer and The Tamworth Observer and Northern Advertiser, is a daily newspaper produced in the city of Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. Tamworth itself was gazetted as a public town in 1850.


  1. The Northern Daily Leader has run articles about or including Warren Rodwell in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. ( See sample links below ) In 2010, it was in regard to promotion of the historical wall plaques being installed at Tamworth West Public School. The subsequent years ( 2011 – 2014 ) concerned Mr Rodwell’s  kidnapping by Islamic terrorists in the southern Philippines.
  2. NDL 14 Oct 2012
  3. NDL 18 Oct 2014
  4. NDL 31 Jan 2013

Tamworth NSW


Although born in Sydney, Warren grew up and attended Tamworth West Public ( school vice-captain in 1970 ) and Tamworth High Schools. In fact, his late father was a bricklayer, who helped build THS in the late 1950s. Warren’s late mother’s name was Ellen Rodwell ( nee Scott ). Tamworth was her hometown. Their family connection dates back to at least 1915 when  great grandfather John Ditton Scott ( 1871 – 1955)  transferred down from Glen Innes as a railway employee. One locally-based cousin jokes that before she got married herself, she was related to 25% of the people in Tamworth. After marriage, that increased to 50%.


Villagers feared for lives as men swooped on Australian

Filipino gangs have gained notoriety for their high-profile abductions,

Sydney Morning Herald Warren Rodwell

December 10, 2011 Lindsay Murdoch writes

The lights went out in the sleepy southern Philippine village of Pangi, on the outskirts of Ipil, as darkness fell. Australian adventurer and writer Warren Rodwell had returned home earlier in the day to check on workmen painting inside the house he had bought in the village in October.

Two weeks earlier, Miraflor Gutang, 27, whom he had married in June, had returned to her family’s home in another village after the couple had argued.

Missing  Warren Rodwell

Missing Warren Rodwell

The painters had left Mr Rodwell’s house by the time four strangers walked into the village moments after a power outage and introduced themselves to villagers as policemen. One of the men, who were not masked, told villagers not to be afraid, but they were.

Mr Rodwell, 53, was probably preparing dinner in the tiny kitchen of the house when the men entered. The front gate and door may have been open as the house is protected by barbed wire and heavy bars. Mr Rodwell was taken off guard: his loaded handgun was under the pillow in his bedroom.

Tall and strong, the tattooed Australian was not going anywhere without a fight and struggled violently with the men. Neighbours heard a gunshot and Mr Rodwell’s screams for help. Police believe he was shot in the foot during the scuffle. They found a trail of blood from one of his thongs near the front door.

Neighbour Joel Bulay, 44, and his wife Rosanna, 41, saw Mr Rodwell being dragged from the house. Mr Bulay said two of the men held Mr Rodwell tightly by the arms. Another man armed with a pistol pushed him to walk faster from behind as another pulled him from the front by handcuffs. Ms Bulay said Mr Rodwell could hardly walk due to the pain as he was dragged past her house.

Rodwell House-001

”He did not say anything and we are not sure that he saw us,” she said. The group disappeared into the darkness through bushes that lead to a river and the open sea. ”I was really scared, so scared that I was trembling and could do nothing because we feared for our own safety,” Mr Bulay said. ”One of my girls, who is five years old, suspected it was a kidnapping and I told her to keep quiet because we were scared the gunmen would take us and use our family as a shield in their escape.”

The villagers have reason to be scared. In April 1995, militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf attacked and pillaged the seaside town of Ipil, 130 kilometres from the provincial capital Zamboanga City. Fifty-three people were left dead.

In September, the same group kidnapped Luisa Morrison, the Filipino wife of a Scotsman, from her beauty salon in Ipil. The militants took her to their stronghold on Basilan Island, four hours away by speedboat. She was rescued a week later during a fierce battle with Philippine security forces in which one soldier was killed.

Grave fears are held for Mr Rodwell, who after leaving Sydney a decade ago travelled frequently in developing countries and worked for more than eight years as an English teacher in China.


Philippine security forces have stepped up their hunt for Abu Sayyaf militants who have been blamed for the kidnapping of numerous foreigners and wealthy Filipinos, some of whom have been beheaded if ransoms have not been paid.

Authorities have not ruled out that elements of other Muslim groups or criminal gangs involved in the region’s lucrative kidnapping-for-ransom industry are behind the incident.

Mr Rodwell knew the area where he was living was dangerous but had refused police protection in June, saying he could look after himself. The Philippine media has reported he is a former Australian soldier. On several websites Mr Rodwell, whose former wife and three adult children live in Western Australia, describes himself as a full-time expatriate. On one posting he wrote that true wealth is best measured in terms of inner peace and happiness, not material things.

”Accepting your own mortality is also most useful, especially if you don’t have financial or family responsibilities back in your place or origin,” he wrote. By all accounts Mr Rodwell was happy with village life, running a store in Ipil with Ms Gutang, also known as Grace, who he reportedly met on the internet.


However, neighbours said that he was not particularly friendly and he had chased some people away from his house. ”He is really strict and perceived as arrogant,” Mr Bulay said. A sign at the house warns about trespassing. Merly Suan, 18, another resident of the village, described Mr Rodwell as a silent man who went about his daily business alone. ”He sometimes smiles at me if I see him on his motor bike … I think he is a good man and we pity him,” she said. ”We pray for his safety.”

The Australian government’s handling of the incident will be a test of the recommendations of the Senate inquiry into the kidnappings of Australians overseas, which were made public last month. The government has established a multi-agency group that includes federal police, diplomats and intelligence agents. When Australian officials arrived in Zamboanga City, one of the first things they did was to ask Philippine authorities to impose a news blackout on the hunt for the kidnappers.

with Al Jacinto in Ipil

REVEREND DAVE MARVIN read an article written by Warren Rodwell

Reverend Marvin talks about facing disappointment

Rev Dave Marvin

Rev Dave Marvin, St Mary’s Church, Greasley, Nottinghamshire, England

The Rev Dave Marvin, of St Mary’s Church, Greasley, Nottinghamshire, England speaks about wrong expectations and facing disappointment.

The other day I came across this story. After five years, a psychiatrist told his patient that he seldom uses the term “cured” but he was pleased to announce that she was completely cured.

To his surprise, the patient became disappointed. The doctor asked, “What’s wrong? I thought you would be thrilled to know that you were cured”. The woman replied, “Doctor, look at it from my point of view. Five years ago I was Joan of Arc. Now I am nobody”.

This is a woman who was disappointed because she thought/expected to be someone who she clearly wasn’t and wasn’t happy when she faced the reality of her situation.

That’s why many people face disappointments today; they have the wrong expectations. As a result, they face more and more disappointments and don’t really know how to deal with them.

I read an article written by Warren Rodwell who had been held hostage by a terrorist group and had featured in a number of ransom videos. He told Daily Mail Australia he became more compliant after he lost hope.

“Whatever someone wants, you give it to them”, he said.

“You just do what you’re told. Nothing really has meaning to you any more. Someone tells you “say this” and you say it. You just imagine whoever is watching it is smart enough to realise you haven’t really got your heart in it. Once you lose hope you lose heart.”

St Marys Greasley

Our Lord Jesus suffered unthinkable horrors at the hands of his captors and was killed in one of the cruellest forms of execution imaginable. We know that he suffered both physically and mentally. The Bible tells us that before his death Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”.

We’re also told that in his anguish he prayed earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

But his death opened up immense opportunities for us and gave us hope even in our darkest of times. It’s up to us to accept the light of Christ, to accept those opportunities and use them to bring Christ’s light into the lives of those who are living in dark times, seemingly without hope. Because ‘Once you lose heart, you lose hope’; I pray that it won’t be the heart of Jesus and the hope that he brings.

Australian Warren Rodwell

Australian Hostage Warren Rodwell

COMMENT 3 (Newest to oldest):

Good question, Taiwan (BELOW).

A body is animated by the soul. Jesus’ body was no different, except that it was both fully human and fully divine: there wasn’t a “human part” and a “divine part”. As his whole nature was fully human and fully divine, it follows that his soul was both fully human and fully divine as well, for he could not be the Word Incarnate without the Word being part of all of his incarnate nature.

This is attested by the Fathers, for example St John Damascene:

By the fact that at Christ’s death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word.

De fide orth. 3, 27: quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 626

No one knows exactly how old Jesus was when he died on the cross, but he was probably 33 years of age. This could naturally lead one to wonder, in human terms, if Jesus was twenty years older (Warren Rodwell was 53 at the time of his capture); would Jesus have matured more in his worldliness and outlook, and not be so grief-stricken (sorrowful) up to the point of his death?

Perhaps, someone well-versed in the Bible (such as Rev Dave Marvin, himself) might be able to provide some insight into this scenario.

COMMENT 2 (Newest to oldest):

Taiwan writes: I wonder why Jesus was so sorrowful up to the point of his death? After all he came to Earth expressly in order to die (for man’s sins)

COMMENT 1 (Newest to oldest):

472 Days writes:

Touching sentiments, Reverend Marvin.There is a biography / book published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing “472 Days Captive of The Abu Sayyaf – The Survival of Australia Warren Rodwell” by Dr Bob East. It would seem that Rodwell had also been overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He mentions prayer, but probably self awareness and humour sustained him most of all.


WARREN RODWELL STORY by Danny Jovica (Expats Association)

Reclining on the couch, relaxing after a long day and my mobile phone unexpectedly rang. I checked the time, and saw it was 10pm and noted the incoming call was from an unknown number. I wondered who could be calling me this hour. I answered and to my astonishment I found myself talking to none other than Warren Rodwell (long time kidnap victim of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines). I had previously contacted Mister Rodwell inviting him to join Expats Association in an honorary administrative capacity. This particular evening, he confirmed that he had received my latest message advising that Expat Association had just been granted charity status in Australia, and that I wanted to talk to him by phone.

Warren Rodwell Mindanao

Warren Rodwell Mindanao

As founder of Expats Association, I found myself no longer able to be tired, Warren Rodwell had my captivated attention as the next four hours unfolded with the telling of his detailed kidnapping and his experiences he had as a hostage. The instant impression I got was Warren is an intelligent, articulate and worldly man. On the 5th of December 2011, Warren’s sister received a call – not from Warren, but from the Australian Embassy in Manila, calling to inform her that her brother had been kidnapped and taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. They were making demands of USD$2 Million for his release or he would be beheaded! Our discussion turned to the lead up toward these events and it became apparent that the cause of Warren’s problems started with his then wife. Unfortunately a familiar story that I personally have heard time and time before. The all-too-familiar story of the foreigner falling for a Filipino woman and slowly but surely, events unfold like a mirror image of other similar stories told from Australian Expats. Warren Rodwell makes it clear, “My wife did not set out to cheat me.” However his much younger wife seemingly began to try to manipulate her husband with daily monetary requests for her and her family; the “urgent needs” blown well out of proportion. After a short time, for someone of Warren’s age and experience, he realized he was being had. Upon my prompting, Warren recited with bitterness all the details that led up to his capture. How after his wife didn’t get her way, she started having hysterical outbursts. How she was then guided and persuaded by friends and family to make baseless police blotters about him.  He described the contempt by which he was subsequently treated by Philippine officials due to him being an “arrogant” foreigner. He tells of the threats he received to report him to Philippine Immigration and the Australian Embassy to have him deported – after having bought land and built a new home upon it.

Warren Rodwell

Warren Rodwell House – Ipil ZSP Philippines

Warren for all his worldly experience as an Expat, was consumed with minimizing his potential financial loss, and rather “naively” continued his crash course in what was ultimately a clash with this peculiar culture. He stood his ground, he felt he had done nothing wrong,   and as a mature educated and seasoned international adventurer, he knew his rights and stood firm when falsely accused. He separated with his wife who then returned home to her family. The family of Warren’s Filipino wife lived some eight kilometers away (in Naga village, Zamboanga Sibugay Province – western Mindanao) from where he built their matrimonial home at Pangi, a barangay/suburb of the provincial capital of Ipil. Interestingly enough, the new house was situated within easy access (mere minutes) of the provincial police headquarters, a state-owned airstrip, and a longstanding permanent combative base for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  The new subdivision was next to a large public high school and most of Mister Rodwell’s neighbors were government employees (teachers, nurses, police and soldiers). The area that Warren was in was locally regarded as being a safe Christian area. However his wife’s Christian dominated and controlled village was split into two parts. The “no go zone” being a Muslim stronghold – a base for militant Islamic groups, including the extremist Abu Sayyaf terrorists.   Warren Rodwell previously felt secure and was assured by his wife, local residents and officials that they were residing far enough away from any danger. Warren tried to create a quiet, simple and modest lifestyle. He does not drink alcohol and did not go out at night.

Warren Rodwell meme

Warren Rodwell meme

Before long however, hints of danger became apparent in the form of threats.  Warren, who had already invested heavily in the area with the building of his home, chose instead to fortify his house instead of leaving the area altogether immediately. He didn’t want to abandon the property until it was at least at lock up stage, and well secured in his absence. Heeding advice from provincial police headquarters during a high risk terrorist alert for the entire province, Warren Rodwell left the region for one week. He had already commenced constructing tall concrete block walls with barbed wire to prevent entry. In Warren’s eyes a man’s home is his castle, and he had seen many similar homes so fortified in this manner. On safe return to the house, Warren Rodwell fiercely determined to complete this building (investment) project within a realistic and manageable timeframe, constantly supervised, trained and physically labored with his personally selected local hired workers. In hindsight, it could be argued that choosing to live in his own home blinded him to the equal determination shared by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. It was a race against time. Two more weeks and all work would have been completed. Warren underestimated the overlapping links his wife, peasant workers and others shared to the group. A matter of discretion and trust. Following a long day of adding finishing touches to the house, at dusk Warren heard a loud bang as his fortified gate was forced open and he was faced with heavily armed men identifying themselves as police.  Within seconds Warren Rodwell was stuck in between them and the walls that fortified his home.   With nowhere to go, a nervous gunman fired a shot from his military rifle – the bullet driving straight through Warren’s hand. They then handcuffed him and dragged away through the swamp lands in the dark, bleeding, confused and in pain.

Warren Rodwell

Warren Rodwell – 472 Days Captive

Thus began of the story of personal resilience and the stubborn survival of Warren Rodwell. For the next 472 days of captivity (the longest any Australian has endured outside wartime) he was confined in small spaces he could barely move in and hidden from sight.  When I asked why they needed to confine him, Warren replied, “Who were they hiding me from?”  The answer of course became apparent… He was being kept out of sight from EVERYONE! Warren relayed more of the story of his miraculous survival, asserting that luck had nothing to do with it. At times it became so emotional I could hear in his voice how he held back anguish with the memories still hauntingly fresh in his mind. Warren Rodwell stated succinctly he seeks no sympathy.

Warren Rodwell

Warren Rodwell

The keys to Warren’s survival became clear. His strategy was to befriend his captors, with his typically Australian sense of humor. Given time, his exceptional leadership skills saw him take control of his captors, mentoring them in some ways and even abusing them emotionally in others  that left them in fear of him and in tears at times.

Warren Rodwell

Warren Rodwell

It was a fascinating and enthralling account that leaves me in anticipation of reading the soon-to-be-released book detailing his story. His biography “472 Days Captive of The Abu Sayyaf – The Survival of Australian Warren Rodwell” written by independent researcher Dr. Bob East is due to be released late 2014 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom.

Warren Rodwell

Warren Rodwell after finger amputated


Warren Rodwell

Mr Warren Rodwell generally does NOT endorse associations, charities or religions. He prefers to maintain autonomy and impartiality.


Sydney man Warren Rodwell ‘kidnapped by terrorists’ in the Philippines


Seized Australian lands in Abu Sayyaf hands

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Authorities said a kidnapped Australian is now being held by a notorious Abu Sayyaf group blamed for terrorism in Mindanao. Warren Rodwell, 53, was kidnapped from his home on December 5 in the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province, about 120 kms east of here. “We have confirmation that Warren Rodwell is being held by the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama in Basilan province. We have stepped up efforts to locate Rodwell and his captors,” Army Colonel Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, said. The military said that Rodwell was kidnapped by a local gang with links to the Abu Sayyaf in the Muslim province of Basilan. Police also linked Barahama Ali, a commander of the larger rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, to the kidnapping.

Visaya said they still do not know whether the two rebel groups had merged or if Rodwell was “sold” or handed over to the Abu Sayyaf. “We still don’t know whether the groups of Ali and Indama have merged or not, but Rodwell is now in the hands of Indama,” he said. Rodwell – a former soldier in the Australian army and a prolific world traveler – married a Filipina Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June in Ipil town weeks after the two met through the Internet. Gutang has appealed to the kidnappers to free her husband, saying he is not rich and ill, but she did not elaborate on his condition.

Rodwell House

Authorities have tagged Indama as behind the kidnapping of a US woman Gerfa Lunsmann and her son Kevin Eric, and a Filipino relative in July in Zamboanga City. The trio was released separately after the woman’s husband Heiko Lunsmann paid a huge ransom to the Abu Sayyaf. Indama was also blamed to numerous kidnappings in Basilan and Zamboanga City in recent years. Some of his victims were killed after their families failed to pay ransoms. His group was also tagged as behind the beheadings of civilians and government soldiers in clashes in Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City. The Abu Sayyaf, tied by the police and military to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, has kidnapped over a dozen people in the past years in the southern Philippines and is still holding an Indian, two Malaysians and a Japanese man.

By Bob East PhD

Australian’s kidnappers posed as policemen – witnesses

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: A Filipino farming couple said they have witnessed how gunmen dragged an Australian man they kidnapped in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay. Joel Bulay, 44, and his wife, Rosanna, 41, said they witnessed how Warren Rodwell, (53), was being dragged away by gunmen who introduced themselves as policemen. “We saw the man they call Warren Rodwell as he was being dragged away at gunpoint by four men. One of the men who was armed with an M16 rifle told us not to be afraid because they are policemen as they hurriedly dragged the white man and they disappeared in the dark over there in the bushes that lead to the river and the open sea,” said Joel as he points to the horizon outside the family’s grass hut in the village of Pangi where the kidnappers had escaped.

“I was really scared, so scared that I was trembling in fear and could do nothing because we fear for our safety. One of my girls, who is five years old, suspected it was kidnapping and I told her to keep quiet because we are scared the gunmen will take us and use our family as shield in their escape,” he said. The farmer said he saw Rodwell in handcuffs as two of the gunmen were holding the foreigner tightly in both his arms and another man, armed with pistol, pushed him to walk faster as the fourth kidnapper pulled him by his cuffs. Rosanna said they heard one gunshot in Rodwell’s house and then saw the gunmen dragging the foreigner to the bushes. “He could hardly walk as if he was in pain, but we did not hear anything from Rodwell as they passed by our house. He did not say anything and we are not sure if Rodwell saw us,” she said, adding the kidnapping coincided with a mysterious blackout in the subdivision.

“It was really mysterious. The kidnappers struck just as the lights went off and only in our subdivision and electricity came back an hour later,” the woman said. Security officials said Rodwell might have been shot and wounded by the kidnappers during a struggle. Government troops continue their search for Rodwell on Thursday, but there have been no reports about the former Australian army soldier. Rodwell married a 27-year old Filipina woman – Mariflor Gutang – in June this year after a short “Internet” love affair and moved to Ipil town where he bought a house which is heavily barbed and corralled. Rodwell’s neighbors described him as a strict man, others said he is arrogant and would often drive away people staring or passing near his house. “He is really strict and perceived as arrogant. He would drive people away and he does not want neighbors near his house. He does not speak to us or mingles with his neighbors,” Joel said.

But Merly Suan, 18, described Rodwell as a silent man who goes by his everyday life alone. “He sometimes smiles at me if I see him in his motorbike. I think he is a good man and we pity him. We pray for his safety,” she said. Rodwell’s wife left him after a fight last month and now lives with her parents in their ancestral home in the town of Naga also in Zamboanga Sibugay province. She has appealed to the kidnappers to free Rodwell, saying he is not rich and is ill.

Aussie’s captors contacted gov, says security official

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The kidnappers of an Australian national have reportedly contacted Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Rommel Jalosjos to open possible negotiations for the victim’s release, a security official said yesterday. The source, who asked not to be named due to a “news blackout” on the kidnapping, said the captors of Warren Richard Rodwell did not demand anything yet, except saying that they wanted to negotiate directly with Jalosjos. The source could not immediately say when the kidnappers contacted the governor, adding though that they “apparently contacted twice.” Authorities could not confirm the reported contact, but expressed surprise how the kidnappers managed to get the cell phone number of the governor. Jalosjos, who imposed the news blackout, refused to answer calls or queries on the supposed contact by the kidnappers. Chief Superintendent Elpedio de Asis, Region 9 police director, declined to confirm or deny the information, saying only the local crisis management committee is authorized to make any statement on the case. Director Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operation in Western Mindanao, and Ipil Mayor Aldwin Alibutdan, head of the crisis management committee, also declined to answer calls. But a security source said the cell phone number used by the kidnappers in calling Jalosjos is now being tracked down. Authorities suspect the kidnappers may have brought 56-year-old Rodwell to Basilan, a known turf of Abu Sayyaf militants who have been involved in several ransom kidnappings. Rodwell was seized from his home in Barangay Upper Pangi, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay last Dec. 5.

Abu Sayyaf FB page

Kidnappers slip through military dragnet

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: Gunmen who kidnapped an Australian soldier-turned-teacher may have escaped a massive military and police dragnet in the small seaside town of Ipil here. Authorities have deployed hundreds of soldiers and policemen to search for the 53-year old Warren Rodwell of Sydney, following a daring kidnapping that had embarrassed security officials and triggered a new wave of travel warnings from Australia and the United Kingdom. Both countries are staunch allies of the Philippines in its fight against homegrown terrorism. The Western Mindanao Command, which has control over half of the military forces in the volatile south, said Rodwell was kidnapped by a local gang with links to the small, but the most notorious terror group called the Abu Sayyaf – blamed for the spate of bombings and kidnappings of foreigners and wealthy Filipino traders in the past two decades.

“There is a possibility that the kidnappers are no longer in Ipil. It’s been a week now since the kidnapping and we don’t know where they are right now, but the operation is still going on to track down the kidnappers and their captive Warren Rodwell,” Mayor Edwin Alibutdan said in an interview. Alibutdan, who heads the local crisis management committee handling the kidnapping case, said no individual or group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. “There is no specific group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. There is no contact with the kidnappers and Rodwell’s family has not received any demand for ransom,” he said.

He said he would convene a joint police and military peace and order council to tackle the progress of the government’s rescue efforts and to determine whether the kidnappers and their hostage are still within the town’s hinterlands or had escaped the massive operation. “We just want to be sure whether the kidnappers and their captive are still here or no longer here and to take the necessary steps to protect foreigners coming in and out of Ipil,” he said. Alibutdan has ordered additional security patrol and told police and military to put up more detachments in coastal areas to prevent lawless elements from sneaking into the town which was pillaged by the Abu Sayyaf in 1995 that left 53 people dead. “The fear of terrorism is deeply rooted among locals because of what happened in 1995. Even now we get news of impending attacks in Ipil and these cause great fear to my people and I assure them that I will not allow terror to again reign in their hearts and minds,” he said.

Locals said they always see Alibutdan leading village patrol during nighttime. “I have no fear. If I show fear, then all my people will be afraid, scared of everything. I don’t even bring bodyguards around with me. The people are vigilant here,” the Mayor said. Rodwell, who now teaches English language in universities in China, is married to a Filipino woman Miraflor Gutang, 27. Rodwell met the woman in May this year on the Internet and married her the next month after dating her in Zamboanga City. Alibutdan officiated the civil wedding in Ipil, but months into their rocky marriage, the woman filed two complaints with the police against Rodwell, accusing him of maltreatment, and left him last month after an argument, and stayed with her family in the neighboring town of Naga. Police said Rodwell’s Filipino neighbors also complained about the foreigner’s arrogance and attitude and often chased away people who would go near his bungalow-type house surrounded by barbed fence and hanged a huge sign that reads “No Trespassing. Pribado.”

News blackout could endanger hostage – expert

AN EXPERT on insurgencies in the southern Philippines says the Australian government’s news blackout on the abduction of Sydney adventurer Warren Rodwell could further imperil his life. Bob East from the University of Southern Queensland, who has written a PhD and other research papers on the insurgencies, says the media should be free to report all aspects of the kidnapping. If the kidnappers believe their hostage is unimportant then his chances of survival are indeed minimal, Dr East told the Herald. After all, if the prime reason for the kidnapping is profit, and there is no profit to be made, then there is no point in keeping their quarry, he said. The governor of Zamboanga Sibugay, Rommel Jalosjos, imposed a news blackout on the kidnapping last week at the request of Australian officials who travelled to the restive Mindanao province to help efforts to free Mr Rodwell, 53, who was abducted by four men posing as policemen last Monday. The decision to impose a news blackout contradicts the recommendations of a Senate inquiry last month that Australian authorities handling the kidnappings of Australians overseas should co-operate with the media, not ignore it. Dr East, who has researched the insurgencies over years, said Mr Rodwell may have been kidnapped by criminals who like to be seen as members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organisation which is portrayed as having ambitions for creating a pure Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

He said these criminals take advantage of inadequate law enforcement in that part of the Philippines to pursue their agenda – terrorism for profit. Dr East wrote in a research paper the organisation which used to be well disciplined is now only comprised of bandits and criminals whose only agenda is greed and violence and any claim to be doing so in the name of a higher authority is pure fantasy and heresy. The Philippine military says it suspects a gang linked to the Abu Sayyaf is behind Mr Rodwell’s kidnapping. It has also not ruled out gangs with links to other claimed separatist groups or local criminal gangs. The release at the weekend of an American teenage hostage in the same area Mr Rodwell was abducted has raised hopes negotiators will be able to secure his release, if the same group is responsible. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Lunsmann, his mother, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 42 and a Filipino relative Romnick Jakaria, 19, were kidnapped in Zamboanga City in July. Mrs Lunsman and Mr Jakaria were freed earlier. It is not known if ransoms were paid. The kidnappers were demanding a ransom of 50 million Philippines pesos ($1.3 million) for the teenager. Kidnappers are also still believed to be holding an Indian, two Malaysians and a Japanese man on Basilan island, a stronghold for rebels. Mr Rodwell, who married a Filipina, Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June after an internet romance, was kidnapped from a house he bought in a village near the seaside town of Ipil, 130 kilometres from Zamboanga City. He was shot in the foot  (hand) as he struggled with kidnappers before he was dragged away. Security forces have launched a big hunt for Mr Rodwell, a prolific world traveller who taught English in China for more than eight years after leaving Sydney a decade ago. Ms Gutang has appealed for the release of her husband, saying he is unwell and she has no money to pay a ransom.

News blackout slammed on Australian kidnapping

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY: A Filipino governor, whose province is where a former Australian army soldier was recently kidnapped, has imposed a news blackout about the progress of the government operation to the foreigner. Warren Rodwell, 53, was seized by gunmen from his home in Greenmeadows Subdivision on December 5. He was also shot in the foot while trying to fight off the kidnappers, a security spokesman said. Governor Rommel Jalosjos said the news blackout will run until the situation improves in the province. He said he would also pass a resolution for all foreign residents in the province to coordinate with the provincial government for their own safety.

“We are a democracy and as such, they (foreigners) don’t have to make ‘paalam,’ (to tell us they are staying here) but because of this incident, I will be passing a resolution for all foreign visitors to coordinate with the provincial government so we can easily monitor them,” he told reporters. It was not immediately known how many foreigners are present in Zamboanga Sibugay, but Luisa Morrison, the Filipino wife of a Scottish national was also kidnapped in September by rebels and taken to Basilan province where she was rescued by army soldiers following a firefight a week later.

Jalosjos said he had a meeting with Australian government officials and the Federal police in Zamboanga about Rodwell, but he did not what was discussed. “They just wanted to touch base with me and I offered them whatever assistance we can give including logistical support,” he said. He said the kidnappers have not contacted Rodwell’s Filipino family or made a ransom demand. The Sydney man married Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June after they met on the internet. “Whoever had kidnapped my husband, he is not rich. Return him to us and please don’t hurt him. My husband is ill,” Gutang said without elaborating as she appealed to Rodwell’s captors during a brief radio interview.

Security forces have launched a massive search in the province and nearby areas which included the Muslim province of Basilan, a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants with links to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. The military said a local gang with links to the Abu Sayyaf was behind Rodwell’s kidnapping, but authorities are also looking into the possible involvement of some members of the larger rebel group called Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is currently negotiating peace with Manila. MILF rebels had been previously tagged by authorities in numerous kidnappings for ransom of foreigners in the troubled region. Kidnappers are still holding an Indian national, two Malaysians, a US teenager and a Japanese man i

Filipino gang with links to Sayyaf blamed for kidnapping of Aussie man

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 7, 2011) – Philippine authorities tagged a gang with links to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group as behind the kidnapping of an Australian man in Zamboanga Sibugay province in the restive region of Mindanao. Warren Rodwell, 53, had been seized on December 5 by several gunmen after he was shot in the foot while trying to fight off the kidnappers who barged in his house in the coastal town of Ipil, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command. “Based on witness account, Rodwell was shot in the foot while trying to fight off the kidnappers, who are members of a local gang, but with links to the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province,” he said without further elaborating. Rodwell, who is married to a Filipina, Miraflor Gutang, 27, also known as Grace, was alone in the house when gunmen seized him. Cabangbang said security forces have launched a massive search for Rodwell in the Zamboanga Peninsula which is made up of the provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and Basilan.

He said the kidnappers escaped toward the sea with their captive, but it was unknown whether they managed to flee the town. He said the kidnappers have not contacted the foreigner’s wife or made any demand for his release. Army Colonel Gerry Barientos, commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade based in Ipil, said they deployed troops to track down the kidnappers, who could still be in the province. “We have deployed more soldiers in the province to track down the kidnappers and the hostage. They could still be in the province,” he told the Mindanao Examiner. Local reporters who were able to interview Rodwell’s wife said she made an appeal to the kidnappers to free the Australian man, saying they don’t have money (to pay ransom). In September this year, kidnappers also seized the Filipino wife of a Scottish national in Ipil town – Luisa Galvez Morrison – and brought her by boat to Basilan province where she was rescued by soldiers a week later following a firefight with the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner)

Australian kidnapped in Zambo Sibugay

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines – Unidentified armed men kidnapped an Australian in Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay province on Monday, the military said. The victim was identified as Warren Richard Rodwell, a resident of Green Meadow Subdivision in Barangay Lower Pangi, Ipil. His kidnappers were last spotted heading south toward the sea, according to Lt. Col. Randy Cabangcabang, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command. Soldiers and police are pursuing the kidnappers as of posting. – report from ABS-CBN Zamboanga



Warren Rodwell’s wife Miraflor Gutang denies being involved in kidnapping

  • by: Kristin Shorten
  • From:
  • June 16, 2013 12:01AM

Source: AAP

THE Filipino wife of freed Australian hostage Warren Rodwell says she was not involved in her husband’s kidnapping.

Miraflor Gutang, who married the former Australian soldier in her hometown of Ipil in June 2011, has broken her silence to clear her name. “All the investigation is clear because I’m so innocent. I’m not guilty, never. I could not do that to anyone,” she told “I’m the one to help how to get (Rodwell freed) from the kidnappers. I’m the one to (negotiate) how to make the ransom lower. “I’m the one to suffer when he’s still in kidnap.”

In her first interview since Mr Rodwell’s release, the 28-year-old recounted her own ordeal with the kidnappers. “The kidnappers ring to me. They always angry and say `blood blood’. The kidnappers said a lot about the negotiation. They cannot finish talking about money. They said $US20 million. They said `I want to kill someone of your family’. Of course I’m very scared,” she said. “I said `I need a proof of life he’s still alive’. I wanted to know from the kidnappers if my husband is still with them, if he’s still alive, so I could believe.”


Warren Rodwell and his Filipina wife Miraflor  ( aka Grace Gutang )

Australian kidnap survivor Warren Rodwell & Filipina ex-wife Miraflor ( aka Grace Gutang )


Ms Gutang said she spoke to her husband three times throughout his captivity. “We talk by phone call and very short. We cannot talk longer. “He said he’s still alive and (feels) hopeless, there’s no one to help him. I’m the one to talk to him about that. He’s a very brave person. I’m the one to cry (when we spoke). “After that (the kidnappers said) `Warren very sick’ and they want to release him.” The mystery surrounding the adventurer’s abduction then deepened when he refused to see his wife. “When I go there (to the hospital) I want to see him, I want to taking care of him, I want him to meet me but the guards said Warren don’t want to see me in person,” she said.

At the time of his kidnapping, Mr Rodwell was building the couple’s new seaside home in Ipil on the Zamboanga Peninsula. Mr Rodwell said he had separated from Ms Gutang, who was living with her parents, two weeks earlier. But Ms Gutang, who has an eight-year-old son from a previous relationship, disputes this. “Maybe he blamed me for what happened to him  because we were living here in the Philippines because last time he wanted to bring me to Australia I don’t like because I don’t want to be far from my family,” she said. “I don’t know why he don’t want to see me. Maybe because sometimes we’d argue before his kidnap.”

In March, Basilan Vice-Governor Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul told News Limited that Ms Gutang had played a key role in orchestrating her husband’s release. “I was very happy when he was released that he was still alive, of course. I wanted to hug him when he was released,” she said. “Warren is very selfish. I don’t know why he’s angry with me. I miss him but what to do?” Mr Rodwell called his estranged wife last weekend to tell her he had filed for a divorce. “I’m so surprised because when he called me he was already in Australia and after that (he said) maybe we’re not lucky in married life. “It’s very terrible so he told me he wanted to make it a divorce so I agreed because I have no choice,” she said.

“He said after I sign the divorce paper he has no more commitment. He said the property he give it to me. He said he didn’t have money to give me. He said `that’s it, no more talk’. “I’m so sad because I wanted to stay with him. Of course I love him still in my heart but our behaviour is not compatible.”  Ms Gutang, the second eldest of eight children, said she was now seeking work to support her family. “Warren wants to divorce me so I want to continue on my own making a future for my son and I have to think of my mum. Nobody help them only me,” she said.  “I was only studying for six months. I never continued because of what happened to Warren. Now I have a plan to find a job.”