ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 28, 2011) – Two Filipino traders kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants have been freed on Sunday in exchange for ransoms in the southern province of Sulu, officials said.
Officials said Ambon Blas, 60, and Perlita Bagay, 25, were released at around 6 a.m. in the village of Latih in Patikul town after their family paid P100,000 to their captors.
“Initial investigation revealed that the victims’ family allegedly paid a ransom amounting to P100,000 to the abductors for their safe release,” Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
he said the two – who are engaged in selling used clothing in Jolo town - were travelling on a motorcycle when abducted near a school in Latih village in Patikul town on August 21.
Cabangbang said the local military has identified the leader of the gang as Basarun Aruk.
Just this month, Abu Sayyaf militants seized a government midwife, Evangeline Taverisma, 55, in Tagbak village on Indanan town. She was on her way to report for work when seized by gunmen whose leader was identified as Nasir Timbang.
The kidnappers demanded P5 million for her freedom.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding two Filipino fishermen, an Indian national and a Malaysian citizen. Authorities blamed the group for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the southern Philippines.
The fishermen, Renato Panisales and Wennie Ferrer - employees of the Mega Fishing Corporation in Zamboanga City - were seized at sea in March. Their companion, Jonald Ocsimar, was freed in July after his family paid P300,000 ransom.
The militant group is holding Indian national Bijukolara Veetil, 36, who was kidnapped in June while visiting his Filipino wife in Patikul town. A Malaysian lizard trader, Mohammad Nasaruddin Bensaidin, 38, from Kuala Lumpur, was also kidnapped in Indanan town on April.
The Abu Sayyaf is also holding a US woman, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 50, and her son Kevin Eric Lunsmann, 14, including a Filipino nephew Romnick Jackaria, 19, after snatching them from a beach house on Tictabon Island in Zamboanga City and demanded P10 million ransoms.
The hostages are believed to be in Basilan Island, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga. (Mindanao Examiner)