ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 26, 2009) – Philippine education officials on Monday made new appeals to suspected Abu Sayyaf militants to release three teachers kidnapped in Zamboanga City.
The trio - Quizon G. Freires, 28; Janette C. Delos Reyes, 29; and Rafael L. Mayonado, 24 – were on a motorboat returning to Zamboanga from a working break when gunmen intercepted them at sea near Zamboanga and brought them to nearby Basilan Island.
Education Secy. Jesli Lapuz expressed concern over the safety of the hostages.
“We are deeply concerned with the safety of our teachers. They preferred to be teachers here than abroad. Why do they have to go through this ordeal? In taking them, the children under their care are deprived of the education they so rightfully deserve,” Lapuz said.
The kidnappers have demanded P6 million ransoms for the safe release of the government teachers.
“Our teachers come from poor families and wish nothing more than support their parents, brothers, and sisters,” said Dolores Alcantara, local schools superintendent.
“These teachers give their time to nurture the children of Zamboanga City to be better citizens and contribute to the economic growth of Mindanao. The parents cannot raise the amount demanded and the government follows a no ransom policy. We pray that the teachers be released,” she said in a statement.
Authorities tagged Abu Sayyaf as behind the kidnappings. (Mindanao Examiner)