Charity of strangers

/ 09:15 AM June 21, 2011

After two weeks in Abu Sayyaf captivity, Cebu City engineer Virgilio Fernandez was picked up by paramilitary members in Tipo-Tipo town, Basilan province, on Sunday.

There were different accounts of how he was released—or escaped—but credit goes to Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar and Bishop Martin Jumoad for helping out in the negotiations between the bandit group and the Fernandez family.


News of his release was a Father’s Day gift to Fernandez’s wife Shirley and their children, who had to leave work to monitor their dad’s precarious situation.

The timing couldn’t have been better. The engineer, who was snatched at gunpoint on June 3, had lost 10 pounds as a result of his ordeal.


In all this time, the Fernandez family had to rely on the benevolence of strangers with nary a Cebuano official going out of their way to intervene in his plight other than making the usual media pronouncements of concern.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district were preoccupied with barking at each other over the legality and inhumanity of demolishing houses of slum dwellers living by a creek.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia at least had the excuse of attending to the province’s problems since Fernandez is not one of her direct constituents.

Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez, who is related to the engineer, earlier insisted on a news blackout.

He had a point in trying to avoid derailing any negotiations between the bandits and the victim’s family.

But that also leaves the question of whether ransom was paid for Fernandez’s release.

One can only speculate what the company that Fernandez worked for contributed to this situation.


The family declined to comment.

It would have been a noble thing for Mayor Rama or Congressman Osmeña to have monitored the emergency and offered assistance to the family especially since Fernandez is a resident of barangay Guadalupe, the legislator’s neighborhood.

When everything’s said and done, the important thing is that engineer Virgilio Fernandez is safe.

Little thanks go to Cebu City officials who were too busy fighting among themselves to lift a finger to even talk to the people responsible for working out Fernandez’s release.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Acts of terror
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