MANILA - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte claimed Saturday that the four tourists kidnapped by armed men on Samal Island in Davao Oriental have been taken to Sulu.
Duterte said he received intelligence information on the kidnapped Filipina and three foreigners last Thursday. His sources said the hostages were taken from Holiday Ocean Resort on a pumpboat and were possibly later transferred to a larger and faster motorized boat.
The mayor said the group passed by Glan, Sarangani and from there, took only six hours to reach Sulu.
The pumpboats were found Tuesday, hundreds of kilometers southeast of the Davao Oriental province.
Duterte declined to identify the group responsible for taking the four tourists at gunpoint.
He instead said that the armed men may be linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group as one of them appears to resemble a known member of the terror group, based on the resort's closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage.
"They (victims) were delivered to a known Abu Sayyaf Group. Whether they are also actually Abu Sayyaf members, that we do not know. Ganyan 'yan eh, ipasa-pasa na 'yan, so as they are passed on to a new group, lalaki nang lalaki yung patong nila sa ransom," Duterte said.
Duterte believes it is probable that the abduction had been deliberate and that the suspects knew their target.
"We have this hanging suspicion that the hostages are pre-determined victims," he said.
The mayor reiterated that he is willing to be part of the negotiating team for the release of the Canadian tourists John Ridsel and Robert Hall, Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad, and a Filipina only known as Marites.
(READ: Duterte offers self in place of kidnap victims)
CONTRARY CLAIM FROM THE PNP
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Ocean View, meanwhile, said that an organized kidnap for ransom group is behind the abduction.
SITG Ocean View head Chief Supt. Federico Dulay also refused to identify the group amid the ongoing rescue operations.
The task group is convinced that the suspects have not yet left Davao Region, contrary to Duterte's claim.
Dulay added that the suspects have yet to ask for money in exchange for the captives' freedom. -- With reports from Michelle Robin, ABS-CBN News Davao
(READ: 'Samal kidnap victims still alive, group ran on foot')