Freed lass embraces Islam so as not to be abused by captors PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 16:32

Mary Cris S. Cuartocruz, 21, reunited with her mother, Elena, in Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay province where the kidnap-for-ransom group set her free shortly before 7 p.m. Monday, ending her ordeal in captivity for 76 days.

Cuartocruz, who was wearing a black veil (turung) as a sign of her embrace of Islam, told a news conference yesterday morning at Camp Batalla that she was treated well by her captors, whom she described by their dialects as Tausug, Maguindanao and Sama.

She said she embraced Islam at the behest of her captors and it helped her release a lot.    “I also thought of it (Balik Islam) so I would not be abused by my captors,” she explained.

“Three persons took care of me most of the time. We were always on the run. Sometimes they fed me with crabs and shrimps (locon). We hid in the mangrove for 11 days and slept on the ground,” said Cruartocruz, who obviously gained weight while in captivity.

As this developed, Cuartocruz’s mother, Elena, thanked foremost God for the safe release of her daughter, Mayor Celso Lobregat and the police for allowing her to personally negotiate with her daughter’s kidnappers.

Lobregat told the inquisitive reporters that Elena had requested a news blackout following her daughter’s abduction last December. “She requested that she be given a free hand to negotiate directly with the kidnappers, and I had assured her that as chairman of the Crisis Management Committee no information on the matter would come from me, which I did.”

The mayor recalled that initially the kidnappers had demanded a P20-million ransom, but Elena was able to negotiate with the kidnappers to lower the amount. “To our surprise, a report on a local TV station claimed that kidnappers had agreed to reduce the ransom to P8 million.”

Immediately after the news broadcast, Elena said, one of the irate kidnappers sent her a text message, saying: “Madam, lumabas sa TV, P8 million na.” At the time, the ransom was apparently much lower than P8 million.

Elena, who confirmed giving a certain amount of money as “board and lodging” fee to the kidnappers, said she had to negotiate directly with the kidnappers because it would allow her the opportunity to beg and even ask for mercy to the kidnappers who were holding her daughter.
“Had I allowed the authorities to intervene in the negotiation, it would give the impression to the kidnappers that I am rich. I am not rich. So they allowed me to negotiate with the kidnappers by myself,” Elena said. — Vic Larato