ZAMBOANGA CITY—Kidnappers struck again in Zamboanga del Norte, seizing a teacher inside her house barely a week after a mayor of a town in the province was released by his captors after his family paid more than P1 million in ransom.
Flordeliza Ongchua, 48, teacher and resident of Barangay Labuan in Salug town, was preparing dinner at home when armed men barged in and took her, according to police.
A witness, Labuan village chief Oning Maravilla, was quoted by police as saying Ongchua was taken to the village coast by at least 13 armed men at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday after she was taken from her house.
The gunmen and their victim passed by a police station in the village but the lone policeman on duty was overwhelmed and disarmed, according to Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles, head of the Western Mindanao police, which has jurisdiction over Zamboanga del Norte.
The lone policeman on duty, identified only as PO3 Guillo, lost his M-16 rifle to the gunmen who pointed their guns at him, according to Estilles.
The suspects and their captive took a boat to a still undetermined location, according to Estilles. He said the city police is now coordinating with Task Force Zamboanga, a law enforcement group formed to prevent kidnappings and other crimes in the city.
Ongchua’s is the latest case of a teacher being kidnapped here and in other parts of Mindanao. It came barely a week after the release of Jeffrey Lim, mayor of Salug town, who was kept captive by kidnappers for at least seven months.
Lim’s family admitted spending P1.3 million for the release of Jeffrey but refused to call it ransom. They called it “board and lodging fee” and payment for a negotiator.
In January 2009, suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen snatched three teachers as they were returning to mainland Zamboanga from Sacol Island.
The victims were released a few weeks later.
In November 2010, two teachers were also snatched in Lamitan City in Basilan but were freed shortly after their abduction.
On Dec. 8, 2011, alert residents of Barangay Limaong here foiled an attempt to kidnap three teachers serving in their village.
In Tawi-Tawi, police reported the killing of an elementary school principal of Mindanao State University also on Tuesday.
Supt. Rodelio Jocson, police chief of Tawi-Tawi, identified the victim as Ponchita Francisco.
Jocson said Francisco was leaving the compound of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish at around 6 p.m. on Tuesday when she was shot by a lone assailant.
Jocson said the victim was shot once and “and it is possible that the victim was shot point blank because the sound (of gunfire) was not that loud.” Julie Alipala and Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao