MANILA, Philippines – Authorities in Zamboanga Sibugay province continue their search for a son of a village official who was abducted by armed men while fishing in the seas of Ipil town on March 12, days after a police task force was formed to resolve the latest in a string of abduction incidents in the Western Mindanao region.
Police Regional Office-9 (Pro-9) Director Chief Supt Napoleon Estilles said they have pinpointed the possible hideout of the abductors of 21-year-old Mheljhon Diaz Auditor, who was taken by 6 armed men while attending to the family’s fishing business 2 kilometers from a pier in Barangay Palid.
Army soldiers who initially responded to incident said the suspects, who were armed with 45 caliber pistols and AK47 rifles and were on board 2 motorized pump boats, took their hostage to an undisclosed direction.
The victim is the son of Barangay Magdaup councilor Gabriel Auditor who also heads an organization of fisher folks in the community.
Provincial police chief Sr Supt Ruben Cariaga was designated to head Task Force Auditor which was created to safely secure the younger auditor.
The elder auditor earlier confirmed to the police he has been receiving extortion letters from unknown groups, now seen as among the primary motives behind the abduction. He would say if there has been ransom demanded in exchange of his son’s liberty.
Ipil town mayor Eldwin Alibutdan said the suspects could be “remnants” of a lawless group behind a series of criminal activities in the area, including kidnapping, that have been a subject of intense pursuit operations by the police and military.
Meanwhile in Sulu, an abducted community health worker was freed 2 days after she was taken hostage, just as the military had earlier anticipated.
Roselyn Kiram, midwife doing volunteering work for the local chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) in Jolo town, was abducted on March 19 while traveling in the adjacent town of Patikul. Two days later, she was released in the same town.
The military’s Joint Task Force-Comet (JTF-Comet) said Kiram was abducted to treat suspected member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who figured in a gun battle with Marine troops a day earlier.
JTF-Comet chief Col Jose Cenabre ruled out any pursuit operation since local officials were negotiating for the safe release of the captive.
After undergoing medical tests at a government hospital following her release, Kiram was discharged with no serious findings on her condition. There was no word if she will pursue criminal charges versus her abductors. – Rappler.com