Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Kidnapped Filipino factory worker beheaded; fate of 2 Chinese hostages unknown

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / December 9, 2009 – Kidnappers have beheaded a Filipino hostage on Wednesday, but held on to two other Chinese captives in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said the severed head of Mark Singson was recovered at around 7.45 p.m. near a public square in Isabela City. His body is still missing, the provincial deputy governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said.

“We were told that the kidnappers beheaded one of the three hostages – Mark Singson – and security forces recovered his severed head. His body is still missing,” he told the regional newspaper the Mindanao Examiner.

The fate of the two other hostages - Michael Tan, 27, and Oscar Lu, 51 – is unknown and the kidnappers did not say whether both captives are alive or dead.

The two were previously reported to be Filipino citizens, but later investigations revealed they are Chinese nationals and probably illegal workers hired by George Tan, owner of the Hitech Wood Craft Corporation in Maluso town.

The kidnappers beheaded the hostage after the factory owner failed to pay some P1.5 million they initially demanded, Sakalahul said, adding, the government has a strict no-ransom policy.

Police said about 20 gunmen disguised as soldiers raided the factory on November 10 and seized the trio. Its owner said the kidnappers struck despite the presence of a military camp nearby.

Sakalahul did not say who was holding the hostages, but authorities previously said that some of the kidnappers have links with the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels.

The Abu Sayyaf and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front are both actively operating in Basilan and had been previously linked to many kidnappings for ransom in the province.

Sakalahul, the acting head of the provincial crisis management committee, said the kidnappers have not contacted him and that the factory owner is also not cooperating with the authorities. “We are appealing to the kidnappers to free the hostages unharmed,” he said.

Jum Akbar, the governor of the Basilan, cannot be contacted to make a statement and she had been most of her time in Manila and rarely seen in the province. And same with Cherylyn Akbar, the mayor of Isabela City and both women were wives of assassinated Basilan congressman Wahab Akbar.

Last month, a faction of the Abu Sayyaf also beheaded a school principal Gabriel Canizares in nearby Sulu province after his family failed to raise two million pesos ransom. His head was found at a petrol station in the capital town of Jolo.

In September, Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan freed three kidnapped government teachers after private negotiators paid millions of pesos in ransom.

The teachers Noemi Mandi, Jocelyn Enriquez and Jocelyn Inion were released in separate places in the towns of Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan.

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 was not paid.

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

No comments: