Sayyaf releases Filipina after beheading of 2 foreigner pals PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 June 2016 14:24

Abu Sayyaf militants freed early Friday a kidnapped Filipino woman after more than 9 months in captivity in Jolo island following a series of negotiations, officials said.

Officials said the hostage, Maritess Flor, was brought to the house of Sulu Gov. Totoh Tan — the head of the Crisis Management Committee — around 2 a.m where she was immediately secured and fed. Tan phoned the military to say that Flor had been freed.

“She is okay. She was fed and examined medically and is so happy to be out of the jungle. She spoke with Governor Totoh Tan and his father, Vice Governor Sakur Tan, and thanked them for their efforts and hospitality. Military officers who rushed to house also spoke with Flor,” one of Tan’s aides told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Flor was handed to the group of Secretary Jesus Dureza, peace adviser of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who sent a private plane to Sulu to fetch the woman. Flor’s family in Bukidnon province had previously appealed to Duterte to help secure the safe release of the woman.

Dureza said the elder Tan helped in securing the safe release of Flor following instruction from Duterte, and is also negotiating with the kidnappers for the freedom of Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad who is still being held in captivity in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

“We have direct instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte to secure the freedom of Maritess Flor and Kjartan Sekkingstad. Maritess is here with me now. There is an ongoing negotiation for Sekkingstad release,” Dureza told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from Davao City.

Flor and Sekkingstand were kidnapped alongside Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall on September 21 at a posh resort on Samal Island in Davao del Norte province. Both Ridsdel and Hall, Flor’s fiancé, were beheaded separately by the Abu Sayyaf after their family and Canadian government rejected P600 million ransoms demanded by the militant group.

Dureza said no ransom was paid for the release of Flor. “No, there was no ransom paid for Flor’s safe release,” he said.

The release of Flor came days after Duterte strongly warned the Abu Sayyaf to free all their hostages. The military said operations against the Abu Sayyaf continue in Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner With a report from Ely Dumaboc and Dan ToribioJr.