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CEBUANO IN ABU’S HANDS

Engineer’s kidnap second to occur in less than a month in Basilan

08:01 AM June 06, 2011

He was supposed to come home for his son’s birthday this week.

Instead Engr. Virgilio Fernandez is now being held captive by the bandit group Abu Sayyaf  after they seized him in Lamitan City, Basilan province last Friday afternoon.

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“We warned him to be careful,” a statement from the engineer’s family went after they learned of his kidnapping over the Internet last week.

Fernandez, a resident of sitio Ingles, barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City, is working as a project engineer in Mace Construction, Lamitan City.

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Pierre Virgil, one of Fernandez’s sons, said his father had been working in Basilan for nearly a year now.

When their father first told them about working in Basilan, they were  hesitant and warned him about terrorist violence in Basilan.

But his father went through with his job, Pierre said.

Pierre, who works in a call center, said he was unable to attend his brother’s birthday last May 31.

He said his father promised to come home for his birthday this week.

Instead, Fernandez was kidnapped by four unidentified armed men while traveling on board a dump truck.

Pierre said they haven’t received any official communication from authorities regarding his father’s situation.

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Mace Construction had yet to call their family as well.

Pierre said he can no longer concentrate on his work as he worries about his father’s condition.

“I feel so helpless, I can’t do anything because he’s so far away,” he said.

He asked the government to contact them and give them updates on the case.

The family said they are only dependent on reports from the media.

“I can’t believe this had happened. We’ve seen things like this happen on movies and you can’t help but think that something bad might happen to him. We are really worried. We hope that authorities can give us updates from time to time,” Pierre said.

Pierre said they haven’t received any ransom demand from the Abu Sayyaf.

“My father is just an ordinary guy. He’s not rich. I don’t know what’s the motive of the people who did this to my father,” he said.

Pierre said the government should give what the kidnappers want if it’s the only way for the family to ensure his father’s safety.

The Fernandez family is also asking the Cebuano community to pray for their father’s safety.

Authorities said they were hot on the trail of an Abu Sayyaf faction in Basilan that kidnapped Fernandez.

His abduction was the second that occurred in less than a month in Lamitan.

Last May 19, gunmen identified by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as Abu Sayyaf members snatched a 16-year-old boy.

The police, however, blamed local MILF guerrillas for the abduction of Nico Sebastian.

Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, chief of police of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), told the Inquirer by phone that the police were certain it was the Abu Sayyaf that was behind Fernandez’s kidnapping.

Latag said witnesses identified the leader of the gunmen who took Fernandez around 3:30 p.m. from Sitio Libi in Barangay Bulanting as a certain Mosama Jamiri.

Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said Jamiri is a follower of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Nurhassan Jamiri.

It was not immediately known if the two were related.

Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said Fernandez traveled on board a company dump truck from Muhammad Ajul town when he was kidnapped.

The kidnappers, he said, first disabled the truck by shooting one of its tires before forcibly taking the victim.

They then fled on a motorcycle with the engineer, Khu said.

“Intelligence units were also tasked to monitor and support other operating troops in the area,” Cabangbang said. Correspondent  Carine M. Asutilla, with an Inquirer report

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Crime, kidnap
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