Facebook video: Hostages are our men, says Coast Guard
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed on Wednesday, June 24, that two of the 3 persons shown in a hostage-taking video that has gone viral are its personnel who were abducted in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, last May 4.
“Their classmates were asked to identify them. When they saw the thread, they confirmed it was them,” PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said.
The video began circulating on Facebook on Wednesday.
It shows the two members of PCG and a village head (barangay captain) kneeling on the ground half-naked and surrounded by masked gunmen in camouflage.
The video shows the gunmen pointing their long firearms at their victims and demanding ransom in exchange for their freedom.
One of the kidnappers threatened to behead one of the victims if the government doesn’t give in to their demands.
The video also showed the hostages appealing to President Benigno Aquino III and PCG Commandant Admiral Rodolfo Isorena for help, saying they’re afraid for their lives.
Police earlier identified the victims as Roberto Bulagao, barangay captain of Aliguay Island, and PCG personnel Seaman 2nd Class Gringo Villaruz and Seaman 1st Class Rod Pagaling.
Balilo said the abductors are demanding a P3-million ransom. “We got this information a long time ago,” he said.
Balilo said that Isorena has ordered to “exhaust all possible efforts to recover the two,” including the village chairman.
Police data obtained by Rappler show there are at least 14 kidnap victims in the custody of armed groups in Mindanao, including the 3 shown in the Facebook video.
The PCG is coordinating with the military and police to conduct pursuit operations to look for the victims, he said.
“We are doing our best in order to rescue them,” Balilo said. – Rappler.com