ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Sept) Kidnappers freed the daughter of a university president after almost 2 months in captivity in the southern Philippine island of Basilan, an influential Catholic priest in Zamboanga City said.
Monsignor Cris dela Cruz said the 19-year old Grace Gonzalez, who was seized August 2 near their house in Guiwan village in Zamboanga City, was reunited with his family.
"She is fine and okay and is with her family now," Dela Cruz said after talking to the victim's father, Eldigario Gonzales, president of the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City.
The family said it would take the victim to Manila to rest after she was freed late Friday in Basilan.
The elder Gonzales said they paid an unspecified amount of money as "board and lodging" fee. "We paid some amount that they call board and lodging fee and we are happy that my daughter is finally reunited with us," he said.
Gonzales said private negotiators helped in the safe release of her daughter.
"We are very thankful to all those who helped secure her release, including President Gloria Arroyo who ordered authorities to work on the freedom of my girl," he said.
No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but the military had previously blamed the Abu Sayyaf, tagged by Manila as behind several high profile kidnappings of foreigners and wealthy Filipino in Zamboanga City.
The group had last month beheaded two of their kidnapped victims in Jolo island, about 950 km south of Manila after their family failed to pay P1 million in ransom.
The severed head of Jeffrey Selvin, 27, was found by civilians in front of the police headquarters in downtown Jolo on August 12. Her mother's body was later recovered.
The duo was kidnapped July 27 outside their house at Gandasuli Road in Jolo. The 58-year old woman, Jacky, owns a bakery shop in Jolo.
In June, suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen freed a kidnapped 41-year old pharmacy owner Bren Vergara after more than two months in captivity after their family allegedly paid more than one million pesos in ransom.
The man was snatched April 12 together with his ailing 70-year old mother Caridad Vergara, who had been later freed near Jolo town.
The group had previously kidnapped a German canning executive here, two Belgians and a Taiwanese matriarch and Filipino-Chinese traders.