Rescued? 'Kidnappers released us,' says MSU student

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – One of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) students who surfaced on Monday, June 6, after being kidnapped over the weekend denied reports that they were rescued by law enforcers.

Juhari Gubat, 18, told the school's Office of Publication and Information (OPI) on Thursday, June 9, that he, together with former MSU-IIT student Hannah Yurong and non-MSU-IIT students Kevin Limpin and Eloisa Lacson, were released by their captors on Monday at dawn.

Their two other companions – Berzon Paeste, a 4th year AB History student from Zamboanga del Sur; and Cid Rick Jamias, a 5th year BS Electronics and Communication student from Tacurong City – remain in captivity. 

According to a press release from the OPI, Gubat claimed that the kidnappers even gave them P200 for their fare. He also denied that they were forcibly taken into a vehicle on Saturday night, as reported on social media. 

Recounting the experience

MISSING STUDENTS. MSU students Berzon Rey Paeste and Cid Rick Jamias remain with their captors. Photo from MSU-IIT Facebook page

MISSING STUDENTS. MSU students Berzon Rey Paeste and Cid Rick Jamias remain with their captors.

Photo from MSU-IIT Facebook page

The OPI's press release stated that the 6 students were in a white Toyota Revo with plate number KGJ 661, driven by a certain "Moamar," last Saturday. The plate number, however, was reportedly traced to a multicab in Cagayan de Oro City.

According to the OPI, Gubat said he only met "Moamar" that same day, at around 4 pm. "Moamar" introduced himself as a cousin and asked Gubat and his friends later that night if they wanted to hang out.

As they were heading for Maranding, Lanao del Norte in the evening, 6 armed men blocked their vehicle in Barangay Buru-un. The men boarded their vehicle and blindfolded them.

"The men had ball caps on and were wearing their backpacks in front. They pointed .45 caliber pistols at us, and ordered us to open the doors," the OPI quoted Gubat as saying. "They were very scary-looking, and they were insisting that my companions and I were into drugs."

According to the OPI, Gubat recalled that he and 3 others were brought to a house allegedly owned by "Moamar" while Jamias and Paeste were brought elsewhere.

In a press conference on Wednesday, June 8, university chancellor Dr Sukarno Tanggol expressed concern over the safety of Jamias and Paeste.

"We should do more and, with concerted effort, put an end to criminality. Our problems are gargantuan," the OPI quoted Tanggol as saying. – Rappler.com

Rafael Bandayrel, a student of the University of Santo Tomas, is a Rappler intern.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story failed to properly indicate that the source of the information was a press release from the MSU-IIT OPI. We have fixed the story. Our apologies.