Naval blockade set up in Zambo Norte town in hunt for kidnappers of 64-yr-old man
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The military has sealed off the sea borders of Sirawai town, Zambonga del Norte province to close in on a local crime group that took a 64-year-old man captive last Wednesday (Sept. 16).
Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said a pursuit operation is ongoing for the captors of Rex Triplitt (not Triplet as earlier reported), a native of Piacan village in Sirawai.
Triplitt was earlier reported to be Filipino-American but authorities are now saying he was a native of Sirawai although his father was an American citizen. His siblings were all born and raised in the Philippines, officials said.
“We are confident that the kidnappers and their captive are still within the Sirawai area. We have conducted a naval blockade,” Ponio said.
Triplitt, his wife, Celsa, and their child were on a motorcycle heading home on Wednesday bound when several armed men in camouflage uniform flagged them at the village of Tapayanan also in Sirawai.
Celsa managed to slip through with the child and sought the help of Tapayanan village officials.
“He is not a wealthy man,” Ponio said of Triplitt, adding that officials were investigating the kidnapping further.
Lt. Col. Clint Antipala, spokesperson of the 1st Infantry Division, said naval forces continued to conduct seaborne patrol while Army soldiers set up checkpoints in strategic areas to block the movement of the captors and the victim.
Antipala added that the military has coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front for possible support in “providing vital information on the exact location of the group and the victim for future rescue operations.”
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