Kidnapped Jolo engineer freed PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 April 2014 13:06

GPH chair asks MILF to help secure

freedom of others still in captivity

 

An engineer who was abducted together with his wife on February by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants was freed by his captors in the village of Baunoh Bangkal, Patikul, Jolo island Saturday night, the  military said.

The release of Bonifacio Salinas, an employee of the Jolo Water District, came a day before the chief Philippine peace negotiator sought the assistance of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “to give kidnap victims their best Easter gift ever: freedom from captivity.”

“This year alone, 23 kidnapping cases were recorded in Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga and Lanao provinces involving around 30 victims,” said Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the panel that negotiated with the MILF for the peace agreement that was signed on March.. “Let us join hands in redeeming them from a most terrible fate of being held hostage.”

“In the last three years, there were nearly 100 cases of abductions of children as young as a year old, students, businessmen, foreigners, journalists, senior citizens, barangay officials, and teachers. Many of these kidnap victims are still in captivity while some have been killed,” Coronel-Ferrer said in a press statement.

On April 11, 2014, military combat operations were carried out in two  villages in the island of Basilan against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)  believed responsible for the abduction of a 21-year old woman from Zamboanga City. The same group has been extorting money from the contractor building the circumferential road in the province.

Philippine military reports disclosed that nine Abu Sayyaf members were killed during the April 11 day-long firefight. Among them was Nur Espital who has been identified as a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Three other alleged MILF members, including a certain Imamul Mande, were wounded.

The said MILF members are connected by affinity to Furuji Indama, the top leader of the Abu Sayyaf and one of the most wanted men in the country, said Coronel-Ferrer, citing reports from the government’s ceasefire mechanisms. Furuji is charged with several cases of murder and kidnappings.

The four casualties affiliated with the MILF  closed ranks with their family members in the ASG during the firefight, she quoted military reports.

“As an organization that signed the peace agreement, the MILF must not tolerate the criminal acts of any of their individual members” said Coronel-Ferrer. “They must do their part in arresting the impunity long enjoyed by these unscrupulous individuals.”

Asked what the MILF can do, the government negotiator said that the MILF leadership should ask their supporters who are intricately involved with the Abu Sayyaf to choose between war and peace.

“They should expel from their ranks those who reject peace and are directly or indirectly abetting the hostage-taking and preventing development to set in,” she said. “The peace process should not be used to shield criminals from their accountability for their crimes against innocent civilians.”

Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, 2nd Marine Brigade civil-military operations chief, Engineer Salinas, was freed by his captors around 7 p.m. Saturday after 63 days of captivity.

Salinas, upon questioning, said he was made to walk for two hours by his captors in a mountainous area before being left in Baunoh Bangkal village where he managed to meet some civilians who took him to the nearby headquarters of the 2nd Marine Brigade.

Salinas and his wife, Marie Claire, was seized by gunmen on February 16.

Lacuesta said Salinas’ wife was freed on March 21 at Bakung village, Patikul.