Kidnapped Manicahan lass is free after 76-day ordeal PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 17:13

Maricris Cuartocruz, a registered nurse who was seized by gunmen at their residence in Manicahan last December, was released by her captors in Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay last Monday.
Maricris’ mother Elena admitted that she paid an amount of money to the kidnappers for her daughter’s safe release, but she refused to divulge the exact amount.

Maricris was freed at Barangay Timbang-Timbang, Alicia and was fetched by her mother and uncle PO3 Arnel Sogradiel. She was brought to the Zamboanga Sibugay Police Headquarters in Ipil for immediate medical attention provided by the local government. Later, she was fetched by operatives of the Zamboanga City Police Office led by Sr. Supt. Edwin Deocampo and Sangali Police Station commander Chief Insp. Elmer Acuña who brought her to Camp Batalla at RT Lim Boulevard where she was presented to the media during a press conference.

Maricris narrated that after she was abducted by six armed men last December 14 around 7 p.m., she was taken to an unknown place where she was kept until her release last Monday.  While she was being taken away, her abductors also shot and killed her grandfatherJesus Sogradiel, 72, a member of the barangay tanod, who was trying to rescue her.
While in captivity, Maricris recalled that her captors were speaking in tausug, yakan and Maguindanao dialects.

She also revealed that she has embraced the Islam religion for her safety. She was baptized with the name “Hannan”.

Earlier reports said that Maricris’ parents paid to the kidnappers a certain amount called “goodwill money”. Asked to confirm this, PRO-9 Director Chief Supt. Elpidio De Asis refused to comment, saying that they have no knowledge on this matter.

Police also disclosed that the kidnappers belong to a small group, but could not confirm if this group has link with the Abu Sayyaf Group or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

They said that it was the same group who kidnapped four teachers in Bankaw-Bankaw, Sibugay and Benjamin Almonte in Manicahan last year. 

Another knowledgeable source said the gunmen who seized Maricris call themselves “18th Flower Boys”.

As the press conference was underway, Cuartocruz’ mother Elena admitted that she paid a certain amount to the kidnappers before the release of her daughter, but she would not say the exact amount.

Elena confirmed that she had constant communication with the kidnappers when negotiations were going on.

The kidnappers first demanded P20 million. This was reduced to P7 million.
The 21-year-old freed kidnap victim told newsmen that she will continue her normal life despite her ordeal.

She added that she will exert efforts to work abroad as it is her ambition in life.
“I am happy that I was freed by the kidnappers and I want to live a normal life and will try hard to work abroad,” Maricris said.

Her mother also said that they won’t leave their place saying they are living in their own property with no enemy.

Deocampo said that a case of kidnapping with murder has been filed in court against the suspects including Maricris’ uncle, Pedro Sogradiel, who was arrested two days after the kidnapping last December.

Pedro who allegedly connived with the kidnappers in abducting Maricris, remains in detention at the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center.

Deocampo is confident that the other suspects involved in the kidnapping will be jailed soon.
Police investigation showed that a group of persons identified as Rajak Campo, brother-in-law of Pedro Sogradiel Jr. , a certain Jeffrey and Raymond, all natives of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay, were seen at Pedro’s house having a drinking spree the whole day on the eve of the kidnapping.

Campo was also implicated in the kidnapping of Benjamin Almonte, a retired soldier who was abducted on February, but was released several weeks later.

Almonte’s house is located in the same barangay where the Cuartocruz family is residing.
After Sogradiel was arrested, police recovered several empty bottles of beer at his residence but the suspicious persons were not around. — Dan Toribio Jr.