BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 29, 2009) – A Filipino midwife was kidnapped in the Basilan island, a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants blamed by Manila for the spate of abductions and terrorism in the troubled region of Mindanao.
Kidnappers had phoned the victim’s superior on Thursday to say they are holding the midwife, Elizar Gomera, who is working for the Lamitan City government. The 45-year old victim was reported missing on Wednesday after he went to the village of Parangbasak to help deliver a baby.
No group claimed responsibility for the latest kidnapping, but authorities suspect the Abu Sayyaf could be behind it. The group is still holding a trader Eliseo Hablo and three government teachers Freires Quizon, Janette delos Reyes and Rafael Mayorada – all kidnapped in Zamboanga City and brought by boat to Basilan island.
The gangs holding the teachers have demanded P6 million in exchange for the freedom of the hostages, but authorities said the government has a strict no-ransom policy and ruled out payments of ransom to the kidnappers.
But copycat attacks had also been carried out by criminal gangs from Basilan victimizing innocent civilians in Zamboanga City in an effort to raise money from ransom collected for the purchase of weapons and to finance future kidnappings.
More than a dozen people had been kidnapped in Basilan and Zamboanga City in recent months and most of those freed had paid millions of pesos in ransoms. (Mindanao Examiner)