Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kidnappers strike anew, take woman in Mindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 27, 2009) – Gunmen abducted Wednesday a woman in the southern Philippine province of North Cotabato, officials said.

Officials said Rochelle Amante, 22, was seized in Kabacan town by two armed, believed to be members of the Pentagon gang, blamed for previous kidnappings-for-ransom in Mindanao.

Amante, whose relatives are wealthy traders, was walking in downtown Kabacan when the armed seized her. They fled on a white car, the military said.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, a regional army spokesman, said ransom was probably the motive of the abduction. “The Pentagon Gang was involved in many kidnappings in the past and ransom could be the motive behind this latest abduction,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Last week, suspected Pentagon Gang members freed a kidnapped Filipino-Chinese trader Christopher Yap after her family negotiated with his captors. Yap was snatched May 7 in Maguindanao province.

In February, a Filipino-Chinese hotelier Wilson Tan and his daughter Jennifer were kidnapped and freed after four days in captivity in Maguindanao. They were kidnapped in their house in Cotabato City.

Police blamed the Pentagon Gang for the kidnapping of Tan and his daughter.

The kidnappers originally demanded P10 million ransoms for the safe release of the captives. The victims’ family did not say if they paid ransoms or not.

Kidnapping-for-ransom has virtually become a lucrative business and livelihood for rebels and criminal gangs in the southern Philippines because most of their victims opted to paying ransom or risk getting killed in captivity.

On Tuesday, three school teachers kidnapped in Zamboanga City were released in Basilan province after private negotiators allegedly paid huge ransom to Moro rebels.

The trio - Quizon Freires, 28; Janette Delos Reyes, 29; and Rafael Mayonado, 24 – were kidnapped at sea on January 23 while returning by boat from a break on Sacol Island in Zamboanga City.

They were brought to Basilan province where the kidnappers originally demanded P6 million ransoms and eventually lowered this to P2.5 million for their safe release. (Mindanao Examiner)

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