Freed hostages say Abu bandits treated them ‘like sons’


FREE AT LAST Cameraman Ramelito Vela grimaces in pain as he is wheeled in Camp Crame in Quezon City for a debriefing. He and audio technician Rolando Letrero were freed by Abu Sayyaf bandits on Saturday after eight months in captivity in Sulu province. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

One of two Filipino TV journalists freed from eight months of captivity by the Abu Sayyaf said Monday the bandit group treated them “like sons” and that not once were they harmed.

“Whatever they ate, we also ate. If we wanted to eat fruits we were allowed to get them as long as we asked their permission,” Ramelito Vela told reporters on Monday.

Vela and his companion, Rolando Letrero, were brought to Camp Crame to undergo tactical debriefing. They were released on Saturday night on Jolo island.

The two were crewmen of Jordanian Baker Atyani, Al-Arabiya TV’s bureau chief for Southeast Asia, who remains in captivity.

In a brief news conference, Vela recalled how angry Atyani was that the Abu Sayyaf—whom they were supposed to interview—held them captive instead.

“If it were possible for a Muslim to kill a Muslim, Baker would have been willing to kill,” Vela said, contradicting the authorities who had said before that the Jordanian went willingly with the Abu Sayyaf.

“On the very first day, we were told that we were captives,” Vela said.

The two TV crewmen had not seen Atyani again since they were separated from the Jordanian five days after they were abducted.

Vela also said there were times when the Abu Sayyaf would make them wear military fatigue uniform when there was an armed encounter nearby so they could not be distinguished from the bandits.

Vela and Letrero, who had grown thin and had an overgrown beard and hair, said they were treated relatively well by their captors, whom they estimated to be in the hundreds.

Senior Supt. Renato Gumban, head of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group, told reporters that Atyani was monitored to have talked to his family in Dubai last December. He said Atyani had not been heard from since, although last January his captors reportedly contacted his family.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP Director General Alan Purisima and Gumban appeared at the news conference with Vela and Letrero.

Vela, who had grown a moustache and a long beard, was wheeled into the conference room in a wheelchair. He said he could not walk since the leg cramps he developed after they were abducted had worsened due to their frequent movements while in captivity.

He said he and Letrero did not know of any ransom paid, adding they were surprised they were released.

Roxas said Vela and Letrero’s release was “hulog ng langit (heaven-sent),” claiming they did not know of ransom negotiations and that there was no ongoing military rescue operation.

“It seemed it was out of the goodness (kagandahang loob) of the kidnappers that Ramil and Buboy (Letrero) were allowed to go down. We don’t know if any payment was made, we don’t know why the two were released,” Roxas said.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • w4d

    Wow, they were treated like sons and released without condition? The Abu Sayyaf are becoming soft…LOL

    • aeon888

      They are manifesting classic signs of Stockholm’s syndrome. That is they should be debriefed and counselled properly to relieve them of this mental disease.

  • jinx

    Magduda ka na sa dalawang ito. Noong nakidnap, wala halos bigote. Ngayon, may goatee pa.  Ganyang klaseng bigote nakikita ko sa mga trying-hard Pinoy nakikigaya sa arabung muslim.

    • 12JEM

       Anong iyong duda?

    • Lateralus

       baka walang pang ahit? hehe. sana di ka makidnap ng abu sayyaf at hinuhusgahan mo agad ang mga nakidnap, para di ka din mahusgahan ng ibang tao

  • indiosbravos2002

    Stockholm syndrome.

  • The Overlord

    Classic signs of Stockholm syndrome! Someone get them to a psychiatrist, stat! These Muslim scum rebels would never treat anyone that’s not following their flawed cult-slash-“religion” humanely at all!

  • Adnalab Elrasa

    what treated like a son? bakit sa picture at sa video aaray aray yang kidnap victim naka pula at naka wheelchair pa?

    • Lateralus

       kasi nga daw nagka cramps dahil palipat lipat ng pwesto, hindi na naman nag iisip, basahin ng mabuti ang article….

  • Rovingmoron

    I said this in the past and I will say it again. Foreign and local journalists have not learned their lessons well. Just to get an exclusive news story,  journalists have to brave the jungles and ignore government warnings on the risks they have to take to conduct the interview in a strange place. Just because Atyani is a Muslim, he thought that the ASG wouldn’t make him captive. In fact, the ASG has every reason to hold him captive. Why? Because the ASG knew that they could get ransom money from Al-Arabiya Network. All the ASG wanted is money and lots of money to finance its operations. Even a foreign freelance journalist will not be spared by this group, believe me. Alone, the impression in their minds that one is a foreign journalist does ring a bell to them, especially if one is an American, British or European. What the ASG sees is money and lots of money for them to survive.

  • John Atm

    Roxas found kagandahang loob  from the bandits… hello… and this is the LP’s presidential bet???

    • George

      read  and analyze with your brain instead of your mouth and bias opinion, you’ll find out the real meaning of  Roxas’s statement.

    • Lateralus

       utak ang ginagamit sa pag iisip, hindi bibig (or daliri kung gumagamit ng keyboard)

  • bugoybanggers

    Hahahahaha, nakakatuwa din ang pahayag nila. Kaya nga mas gugustuhin ng mga taga MINDANAO ang mangdukot ng taga LUZON kasi alam nila na mga lahing DUWAG ang mga iyan. Takot harapin ang kamatayan.. sige mga taga LUZON hali na kayo, masarap kayong tirahin at para maKONBERT kayo at doon pakakawalan para naman magyabang at mang akit kayo sa inyong pagbalik. Ang dali ninyong UTUHIN kasi pinanganak kayong lahing DUWAG at MAYABANG. Larga pa dito para makatikim kayo ng tunay na HOSPITALITY. Salamat sa pag bisita.. tuloy po kayo.

    • The Overlord

      Die, Muslim scum! :D

      • bugoybanggers

        Mga US Trained na AFP, saan na kayo? Kita ninyo kung gaano ka PROFESSIONAL makipag barilan ang mga TRAINED by ULAMAS na MNLF at ASG, walang civilian casualties, kung AFP pa baka kahit mga alaga ninyong manok patay sa ratratan. Ang kasundaluhang galing LUZON pag rumatrat, ang mata nakatingin sa LUPA o naka YUKO basta putok dito putok doon BAHALA na ang tamaan dahil iyan ang turo sa kanila ng mga AMO nilang KANO (magaling lang sa WARGAME ala BALIKATAN) at ang mga iyan ay galing sa mga semilya ng mga mamayabang na mga BETERANO(WW2) ng Bataan.. (Mga nauna pang sumuko sa mga HAPON na hinahangaan ng kanilang mga APO). Lahing mga duwag at mayayabang, mag balot balot na kayo, hayaan na lang ninyong mga Mandirigmang MORO ang mag resolba sa problema nila. Nasaan na ang mga CHR? Yung pinagmamalaki ng DEMOKRASYANG Pilipinas, sugod na kayo at mag imbestiga, baka ang bayag ninyo ay pang duwag at mayayabang na kawani ng AFP-PNP lang! Nakakahiyang kawani ng gobierno na malamya na nagpapaBULLY dahil dakilang tuta ng mga manlolokong KANO.

      • The Overlord

        Second-class citizens! Hahaha! Kaya pala ang taas-taas ng poverty and corruption rate sa ARMM no? Mga warfreaks and primitives kasi! Nung sinabi ng SC na unconstitutional ang MOA-AD, nag-tantrum kaagad at nagbabaril sa Lanao. Hahaha! Yuck! Ang childish ha!

  • kinutil

    Itong mga dayohan na ito Kunwari kinidnap pero sadyang magpakidnap para dili mahalata MA INDIRECT ang tulong FINANCIAL sa mga Abu Sayyaf magiging ransoms ang tawag para dili mahalata ng gobeyerno.Matagal na nilang ginagawa ito pero hindi parin alam ng mga nasa GOBYERNO natin.

  • Jimbo

    Long live the brothers ramelito and rolando vela who survived the long captivity  from their kidnappers. As regard the arab national Atyani, may his captors release him too,,,,,…… and may the Government learn that kidnappings, killings and other forms of criminalities are products of bad governance that leads to poverty in the provinces. and that Metro Manila or Luzon is only a small part of the Philippines and that MINDANAO will spell the difference when properly managed or governed. Mr. President, please turn your attention to the neglected Mindanao. Your stewards here are for themselves only. they are there for their greed and satisfaction only. It is time to give some special attention to mindanao Mr. President……..

    • bugoybanggers

      Hayaan ninyo ang MINDANAO! Free Mindano and PALAWAN.

  • Guest

    May instructions na noon si PNoy kay Sec. Mar Roxas na pulpubisin na ang mga private armies. May resulta na ba Sec. Roxas?

  • Wesley_james

    Bingo! Pati mga big time columnists and radio commentators, pasok sa monthly payroll ni Mar. First in the lists, Anthony Taberna and Ted F.

  • Darwin

    “It seemed it was out of the goodness (kagandahang loob) of the kidnappers that Ramil and Buboy (Letrero) were allowed to go down. We don’t know if any payment was made, we don’t know why the two were released,” Roxas said.

    WTF! This kind of statements are so effin wrong.

  • del pillar

    Vela and Letrero are both brother muslims, the reason I believe they were treated well and released without any ransom, with a big ???????????……..We must be very very careful of this nationalities, after all I believe we have not dig deeply into their personal characters!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Overlord

    Yan ang utak talangka ng mga Muslim sa Mindanao. Aanhin mo kung “matapang” ka when you are being vilified by the rest of the world? For once, think with your brains and not with your guns. Treated well? As if? It’s either they were brainwashed to follow their false cult or have been tortured. Muslim extremists are the scourge of the planet. No wonder people keep avoiding you when you push yourselves to fit in the posh Manila neighborhoods. Stop dreaming that you can secede from this country and claim the whole of Mindanao, and the rest of that country for that matter. You’ll either have to abandon the idea of secession sometime anyway or die trying.

    • bugoybanggers

      Kayong mga taga LUZON ang may UTAK talangka..kaming taga MINDANAO ay nagkakaisa pero pinaparusahan namin ang mga UTAK BABOY na tulad ninyo na nagmamayabang sa BAYAN namin. Ang pakikipaglaban namin ay may layunin hindi tulad ninyo na desperado na, dahil halos PATAY GUTOM ang karamihan sa inyo! Ubos na ang kalikasan dahil sa KABUWAYAHAN ng inyong mga LOLO. Makikialam kayo sa amin para alipustahin ang aming kalikasan? Sino ba ang bumaboy sa kalikasan ng MINDANAO at PALAWAN (ginawa pa ninyong REGION IV-B mga ulopong) kayo! Nasaan na ang kita? Nasa inyo! Kayo may lakas loob pang kunin ang SABAH para gawin ding REGION IV-C?, mga lugar na inggitero.. tumahimik na kayo, ayusin muna ninyo ang inyong GUSOT o patulong kayo sa sinasamba ninyong mga KANO. Pwede rin balik na kayo sa CHINA, ang LUZON ay pag aari ng CHINA.

      • The Overlord

        At kelan naging teritoryo ng mga Muslim na rebelde ang Mindanao? Kakarampot lang ng Mindanao ang ARMM, you scum! Patay gutom daw? As if? Tingnan nga natin ang corrupton at poverty incidence rate sa ARMM. Hahaha! Mga dukha! Magdusa kayo dahil sa kulto nyo. Walang naniniwala sa flawed belief nyo at sa pedophile na si Muhamad! Mahilig ang mga Muslim manguha ng mga bagay na di sa kanila. Mga war freaks kasi. Pag ayaw ibigay ang gusto, mag-threaten yan na pagbombahin daw ang lugar. Mga primitives! Hahaha! Never kayo magiging ka-level ng mga civilized at non-Muslim population sa Pilipinas. You will ALWAYS be second- (or even third-) rate people of this country! Never kayong magiging priority sa development, kasi mga basura lang kayo! Di ba, virtual surrender na rin ang ginawa ng MILF sa pag-sign last year? Hahaha! Mga hunghang. Mga walang alam!

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94

editors' picks