Mother hails teenage nanny for release of kidnapped toddler
Karen Maata, mother of Timothy Sokolov, a month shy of being 2 years old, said Carolyn Remetre seized the opportunity to escape when she sensed that the kidnappers had left them alone briefly in a safehouse here on Friday afternoon.
Maata, who came over to Ozamiz to fetch her son and the nanny on Friday, recounted to reporters the girl’s story that the kidnappers had left them unguarded in the safehouse.
Determined to escape, Remetre hugged Timothy tightly, double-checked that nobody was watching over them, and made a dash for freedom, according to Maata.
“She was crying and distraught and decided to go inside the Gaisano Mall,” Maata said, adding that the girl was at a loss as to whom to run to for help.
She said Remetre decided to sit in a corner inside the Gaisano Mall while trying to compose herself and thinking of where to go when local policeman PO1 Alex Bentero saw her crying.
Maata said that the nanny would not open up initially to Bentero because he was a stranger despite his police uniform. But then, she finally talked following his persistent questioning, Maata said.
Bentero then took Remetre and Timothy to the police station and from there, Maata said, she and the Zamboanga del Sur police were contacted about her son and the nanny’s freedom.
Maata’s story, however, differed with what military and police authorities had said on Friday. They said the nanny and the child were released by the kidnappers at the mall although they could not say if any ransom had been paid.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer could not reach the authorities immediately on Saturday for clarification of the discrepancy between what they described as a release and Maata’s account of an escape.
Last Thursday, Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co told the Inquirer that the kidnappers demanded a ransom of P50 million in a call three hours after the kidnapping and that they settled with the parents for P15 Million. “That is what the provincial police command officials informed me.”
Senior Superintendent Ramon Ochotorena, regional deputy director for operations, told the Inquirer that the boy and the nanny were snatched while they were having their routine walk outside the Rosario Homes in Dao village, Pagadian City, around 6 a.m. Thursday.
Major General Rainier Cruz, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga del Sur, told the Inquirer late Friday afternoon that based on reports sent out by Misamis Occidental authorities, Timothy, whose father is a Pagadian City-based Canadian businessman, and Remetre were recovered after they had been released by their captors.
Ochotorena later sent a text message to the Inquirer saying “it was still unclear” whether or not ransom had been paid but added the nanny was undergoing debriefing.
Superintendent Julius Munez, Pagadian City police chief, told the Inquirer by phone that the boy’s parents were not around when the gunmen struck.
A search-and-rescue operation was subsequently expanded beyond Pagadian City with the participation of other police units in Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental.
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