Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kidnapped Zamboanga teachers freed, not rescued

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / September 24, 2009) – Three kidnapped government teachers whom police claimed had been rescued from Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines were actually released after private negotiators paid millions of pesos in ransom.

Police said the public school teachers Noemi Mandi, Jocelyn Enriquez and Jocelyn Inion were rescued Wednesday in separate places in the towns of Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan in Basilan province, south of Zamboanga City.

Sources said ransom ranging from three million pesos up to five million pesos was believed paid to the kidnappers for the safe release of the hostages.

The trio was kidnapped in March 13 in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Naga town and brought to Basilan where they had been held captive. The kidnappers had threatened to behead the teachers if ransom is not paid.
Police insisted the teachers were rescued.

The kidnappers released Enriquez and Mandi in Tipo-Tipo’s Bangkuang village, while Inion was freed in Kabangkalan village in Ungkaya Pukan town where police teams recovered them.

It was unknown who negotiated for the release of the teachers. But the Crisis Management Committee of Zamboanga Sibugay provincial government was previously negotiating with the kidnappers.

The freed hostages who are teachers of the Bangkaw-Bangkaw Elementary School in Zamboanga Sibugay province had been brought to the regional police headquarters in Zamboanga City on Wednesday and were kept away from journalists.

“This is the result of a close coordination between police forces in Western Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and long intelligence work. We got the teachers without bloodshed,” said Chief Superintendent Salik Macapantar, the head of the Directorial Staff of the police force in the Muslim autonomous region.

He gave no details about the rescue, but said police forces were pursuing the kidnappers. “The Abu Sayyaf was behind the kidnappings of the three teachers,” he said.

The kidnappers originally demanded ten million pesos ransom in exchange for the safe release of the teachers. The freed hostages were brought to Zamboanga City from Basilan.

In January, Abu Sayyaf militants also kidnapped three teachers - Janette de los Reyes, Freires Quizon and Rafael Mayonado in Zamboanga City and held them in Basilan province and freed four months later after private negotiators paid millions of pesos in ransom. (Mindanao Examiner)

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