Kidnapped principal freed PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 05 April 2014 11:25

Suspected Abu Sayyaf kidnappers freed Thursday afternoon a school principal they seized Monday in Sumisip, Basilan, an official announced Friday.

Mayor Gulam Hataman of Sumisip, Basilan said Benita Latonio was freed around 5 p.m. at Sitio Mompol, Barangay Libug.

Latonio, 62, was released through the concerted efforts of the local crisis management committee headed by Hataman.

Latonio is the school principal of Manggal Elementary School in Sumisip.

Hataman said Latonio was immediately taken to the Basilan General Hospital in Isabela City, for treatment.

The mayor said Latonio was very weak and could hardly walk at the time she was released.

The victim has been reunited with her family.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits seized Latonio last Monday in Mompol.

She was aboard a Tamaraw passenger jeep together with other teachers on the way to Isabela from her school when gunmen wearing  bonnets stopped the vehicle and seized her.

Senior Supt. Mario Dapilloza of the Basilan provincial police had earlier said the abductors are believed to be Abu Sayyaf bandits under Juhaibel Alamsurul alias “Abu Kik.”

Ealier report said Latonio’s abductors were asking P1 million ransom. It was not known whether this was paid for her release.

Last March 12, Zamboangueña teacher, Cathy Casipong, was released by kidnappers in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, four months after she was snatched in Sibuktuk island, Limaong where she was assigned.

Also last March, armed men also linked to the Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped elementary school teacher Alrashid Jahang in Sulu. The victim was released a day after the abduction.

Another fresh kidnapping took place in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte Tuesday involving the son of a gasoline station owner.

Michael Co, 27, was seized by gunmen who dragged him to a Kia Sportage car that sped towards  Barangay Labaton, where they transferred the hostage to a motorized banca.

In 2009, suspected members of the bandit group kidnapped and beheaded Gabriel Canizares, an elementary school principal also from Sulu.

This developed as two women, a Chinese tourist and a Filipina hotel worker, have been kidnapped from a resort popular with scuba divers in a coastal town in Sabah, Malaysia.

Gao Hua Yuan, 29, and Marcy Dayawan, 40, were abducted by gunmen from the Singahmata Reef Resort at around 10.30 p.m.

Singahmata Reef Resort is around 200 miles Jolo, island.

Security forces have been alerted in the Philippines and a manhunt has been launched  by Malaysia and the Philippines.

Witnesses claimed they saw three men, including one wearing a balaclava pulled down over his face, go into the resort late Wednesday while others stayed in the boat.

They said the two women were grabbed as they were nearest to the jetty while a few employees jumped into the sea to avoid being abducted.

There were 61 guests and 47 employees at the resort, which is located 20 minutes from Semporna on the Celebes Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines confirmed the abduction Thursday, but refused to identify the Filipina victim.

It said authorities “are actively and closely coordinating with their counterparts in exchanging information and in working towards the speedy resolution of the case.”

The kidnapping is the second in the area in the past six months. In November, Taiwanese businessman Li Min Shu, 58, and his wife Chang An Wei, 57, were also abducted from a resort in Semporna.

Li was killed while Chang was released 36 days later after an unknown ransom was paid to the gunmen who kept her in Jolo.