MANILA, Philippines – The police and the military in Western Mindanao remain hot on the trail of armed rebels suspected to be behind the abduction of a town mayor in Zamboanga del Norte.
“Our pursuit operations are ongoing,” Supt Kenneth Mission, spokesman of the province's Crisis Management Committee (CMC), told Rappler Tuesday, April 3.
Salug Mayor Jeffrey Tan Lim, 37, was abducted by more or less 10 men clad in police camouflage and armed with high-powered guns around 7 in the evening of April 2. The mayor was reportedly waiting for his family in the town's newly-constructed bus terminal when seized at gunpoint.
At least 3 civilian eyewitnesses have given their testimonies to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Mission said information gathered by “police trackers” indicated that the victim was sighted several minutes after the abduction on board a speedboat cruising the seawaters of the adjacent town of Labason.
“The search teams are scouring Labason and Gutalac towns, which serve as boundaries to the Triple SB area, where the armed group could be heading to,” Mission said.
Triple SB, an acronym for the towns of Siocon, Sirawai, Sibuco and Baliguian, is an area in Zamboanga del Norte where armed rebels, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), are known to maintain their camps.
Two Army brigades are also helping out in efforts to pursue the abductors. A unit of the Army's Special Forces and the Navy have also deployed their men and equipment to restrict the movement of the suspects.
On Tuesday morning, Zamboanga del Norte Rolando Yebes convened the CMC to discuss how authorities could safely recover Lim from the hands of his captors.
The abductors have not sent word on their possible demands.
It is the first time that a kidnapping has occurred in Salug.
A 3rd class municipality of about 29,000 people, Salug is considered among the most peaceful of Zamboanga del Norte's 25 towns.
“Salug is your typical quaint town with no history of having lawless groups operating in the area,” Mission said. “The incident really came as a surprise, especially since there were no known security threats against the mayor.”
Lim himself was apparently not too concerned about his own security. - Rappler.com