Duterte's new spokesman was a kidnap victim he saved

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Ernesto Abella

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Ernesto Abella, a former kidnap victim who President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was able to help before, is the newly "designated presidential spokesman" of the Duterte administration.

Abella is an educator, social entrepreneur, and a former pastor.

He narrated that in 1996, he was kidnapped by ethnic bandits while looking for a piece of property in Monteritz, Davao City.

His companions then sought the help of then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who asked help from some Moro National Liberation Front leaders to help secure Abella's freedom.

In 24 hours, Abella was once again a free man.

He, however, refused to say how much the ransom demand was, and if it was paid.

Despite what happened two decades ago, Abella says he considers Duterte more of a good acquaintance than a friend.

Now, Duterte has appointed him as the new presidential spokesman – alongside Atty. Salvador Panelo.

As a spokesman, Abella says his job is to act as conduit between himself and the people through the media.

He says he wants the Office of the Spokesman to articulate the true intention of the President as clearly as possible.

On Tuesday evening, Abella called for a "conversation" with the media to introduce himself.

Asked if this was Duterte's way of reaching out to the media, Abella refused to interpret Duterte's actions.

Duterte has been refusing to grant media interviews following the call of an international media group to boycott his press conferences.

Meanwhile, sought for his comment on the beheading of a Canadian hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group, Abella says he believes that Duterte will be able to do a series of actions that will drastically reduce similar activities.