US thanks Celso for role in ending Lunsmann ‘s case PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 04 February 2012 15:14

Officials from the American Embassy headed by Deputy Chief of Mission Leslie Basset yesterday afternoon called on Mayor Celso Lobregat in City Hall to personally thank him for his role in helping the Lunsmann family return to the United States safely and unharmed.

“We want to express ouro thanks to the mayor for his role in helping the Lunsmann family return to the US. Kevin and Gerfa Lunsmann are very grateful for the mayor’s support in working through a very difficult situation”, Ms. Basset said in a brief press briefing together with Mayor Lobregat after the courtesy call.

She continued: “We are very happy that it (Lunsmann abduction) was resolved well as it did and so on behalf of Ambassador (Harry) Thomas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a very sincere thank you to Mayor Lobregat for the role he played in that event”.

40-year old Gerfa Lunsmann, a naturalized American citizen, her 14 year old son Kevin and 17-year old nephew Romnick Jakaria were forcibly taken by armed men from her vacation house in Tigtabon June 12, 2011. On October 2, Gerfa was released by her kidnappers October 2 in Maluso, Basilan while Kevin walked to freedom December 8 and was spotted two days after in barangay Bulingan, Lamitan, Basilan.

Jakaria also escaped from his captors middle of October.

As the chairman of the City Crisis Management Committee (CMC), the chief executive initiated strong coordination with all sectors that led to the resolution of the Lunsmann kidnapping case.

As this developed, Mayor Lobregat said the expression of gratitude is not only intended for him as mayor of the city but for the entire Zamboanga City and the police and military authorities who helped secure the safe release of Gerfa and for security Kevin as well as Romnick who both escaped from their abductors and recovered by authorities.

“I also acknowledge their (US officials’) appreciation for what we have done not only for me as mayor but for the entire city and the authorities who helped in the release (of Gerfa) and the eventual escape of Kevin”, the mayor said during the press conference. “So they (Gerfa and Kevin) are back in the States, and we are all thankful that the ordeal is over”.

Prior to the City Hall courtesy call, Basset together with colleagues from the US Assistance for International Development (USAID) and Public Affairs Section of the American Embassy came from Basilan where they inspected programs of cooperation that the US and the local governments in the area are undertaking.

Basset represented Ambassador Thomas, who is out of the country.

Accompanying Basset to City Hall yesterday were Robert Burch and Reed Aeschliman of USAID, Pamela Pontius of the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section and FBI personnel who arrived as Ms. Basset’s team were leaving City Hall. — Sheila Covarrubias