Sunday, April 03, 2011

Philippine talks to free hostages continue

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 2, 2011) – Tribesmen have seized more than a dozen people in the southern Philippines and demanded the release of their leader jailed for taking hostage some 50 civilians two years ago, officials said.

Government troops have been deployed on Saturday around the village of La Purisima in Prosperidad town where the gunmen are holding their captives since Friday.

“We have deployed soldiers in the area and are awaiting orders from the local crisis management committee headed by Mayor Albin Magdamit who is negotiating with the abductors for the safe release of all the hostages,” said Army Major Eugenio Julio Osias, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division.

He said police forces are also deployed in the area.

The gunmen were demanded the release of Ondo Perez who held 47 people in December 2009. 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 led to the release of some of the hostages.

The tribesmen were facing a string of criminal charges in connection with the killings of rival natives in the town where they are fighting for years over ancestral lands. Perez had demanded the arrest of another tribe leader Jun Tubay whom he accused as behind the killings of his sisters and relatives in 2008. 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.

Osias said among those being held are teachers, students and motorcycle taxi drivers. (Mindanao Examiner)

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