Friday, October 15, 2010

Kidnappers free Filipino-Chinese matriarch in South RP

Cotabato City police chief Willy Dangane holds a photo of Conchita Tan, 73, who was freed Friday, October 15, 2010 in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Mark Navales)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 15, 2010) – Kidnappers have freed early Friday a Filipino-Chinese trader after one week in captivity in the southern Philippines.

Muslim rebels who are helping in government efforts to rescue Conchita Tan said the kidnappers abandoned the 73-year old matriarch on a highway in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao province.

“The MILF exerted pressure to the kidnappers and Conchita Tan was freed unharmed,” the spokesman for the MILF, Von al-Haq, told The Manila Times.

He said the woman, whose family owns a hardware store in Cotabato City, was fetched by her family.

Sammy Al Mansoor, who heads the military wing of the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, ordered rebel forces to exert all efforts to rescue Tan, who was kidnapped October 8 in Cotabato City in Maguindanao province after gunmen shot and killed two of her escorts.

Tan was heading home with her husband when gunmen attacked them. Tan’s husband was not hurt in the attack.

It was unknown if Tan’s family paid ransom to the kidnappers, but the gang originally demanded millions in pesos in exchange for her freedom.

The MILF forged an agreement with Manila in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces through the ad-hoc joint action group to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.

Al Haq said Tan was kidnapped by a gang headed by Mayangkang Saguile, a notorious bandit operating in Maguindanao province.

Kidnappings-for-ransom is not uncommon in Cotabato and dozens of wealthy traders had been kidnapped in the past and freed after their family paid ransoms to their captors.

The MILF, which is fighting for decades for self-determination, is currently negotiating peace with the Aquino government in an effort to put an end to bloody clashes in Mindanao, which had been ruled in the past by sultans. (Mindanao Examiner)

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