As a follow-up to my filing on Wednesday (December 7), "Update: Australian Kidnap Victim Ignored Travel Warnings in Philippines," it appears that self-styled Australian "adventurer" Warren Rodwell, 53, refused an offer of police protection in Mindanao before he was kidnapped, and alternatively armed himself with a handgun before he was shot and abducted in the southern Philippines by six gunmen.
After Rodwell was abducted, police found his loaded pistol under the pillow of his bed, after kidnappers dragged him from his house in the coastal town of Ipil, on Mindanao Island, on December 5.
COMMENT: Police in Mindanao did recover one empty cartridge casing at the scene and found traces of blood outside the house from which Rodwell was kidnapped. Consequently, with no dead kidnappers left behind at the scene, Rodwell's bravado in repelling kidnappers with his newly acquired handgun was apparently based on over-confidence, rather than years of experience with firearms.
Clearly, Rodwell should either have accepted police protection in Mindanao, or better, yet heeded the advice of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). As we now know, Rodwell did not heed DFAT's guidance to all Australian citizens to NOT travel to Mindanao. He apparently knew better than even his own government.
Local police in Mindanao believe that Rodwell was kidnapped by a local gang with links to Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province.
Rodwell is the 10th foreigner to be kidnapped in the southern Philippines this year. Since 2005, the Australian government has had a ''do not travel'' advisory for Australians intending to travel to the southern Philippines.
As a former federal agent with 22 years' service, most it abroad, a current federal firearms dealer and an NRA-certified pistol instructor and certified range safety officer, I would be the first one to discourage potential kidnap targets to buy a gun to defend themselves against the kidnap gangs that operate in Mindanao. First, they are heavily armed, second they are professional gunmen and third, they attack in formidable numbers. Consequently, Rodwell was not only out-gunned, but he was outsmarted as well.
The ONLY initiative that is effective in preventing and/or avoiding a kidnapping is to either have formidable premise and vehicular security that kidnappers cannot penetrate, OR remove oneself from the environment in which specific kidnap gangs operate. In Rodwell's case, he had and did neither.
A final thought for all of us to consider: Increasingly, first responders in many developed nations are beginning to demand and obtain reimbursement from those they rescue who have made very bad choices that have put them in Harm's Way. An example of this are the three US hikers who "wandered" into Iran and were released at considerable cost.
When governments take extreme risk to rescue such persons, they should be compensated accordingly. Hence, given Rodwell's notoriety as an author and professor, he should have the resources to compensate the governments of the Philippines and Australia for the time and effort expended to rescue him.