Sunday, December 13, 2009

Philippine tribesmen finally free hostages

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / December 13, 2009) – Philippine tribesmen who were holding dozens of villagers have freed all their captives Sunday after a series of government negotiations, officials said.

Officials said all the hostages – 47 of them – were freed unharmed in Agusan del Sur’s Prosperidad town after three days in captivity on a remote village.

“We are happy to announce that all the hostages were freed unharmed. This is the result of a series of negotiations by the local crisis management committee,” said Major Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman.

He did not say whether the tribesmen, who are facing a string of criminal charges in connection with the killings of rival tribesmen, were arrested or not, or if any of their demands had been granted in exchange for the freedom of the captives.

More than a dozen Manobo tribesmen, headed by Ondo Perez, had seized the villagers on December 10 after being told that policemen were on their way to arrest them.

The tribesmen originally rounded up 125 people, but 50 of them managed to escape to inform the police about the incident and subsequent negotiations by social worker Josefina Bahadi that led to the release of some of the hostages.

Perez had demanded the arrest of another tribe leader Jun Tubay whom he accused as behind the killings of his sisters and relatives last year. Both families are locked in a bitter clan war that had killed about a dozen people from both sides.

Perez said they took the hostages to shield them from being arrested by the police and demanded authorities to drop all charges against them in exchange for the safe release of the captives.

Police flatly rejected the demands and said the gunmen have warrants for their arrest in connection to the murder of Tubay’s relatives. (Mindanao Examiner)

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