Police say Abu Sayyaf now kidnapping just about anybody
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits snatched yet another government employee, barely a day after releasing a heavy equipment operator of the Sulu provincial engineering office whom they held in captivity for nearly two weeks, the authorities said.
Dr. Raden Ikbala of the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office said Lailani Bernabe, a midwife, was on her way to work on Thursday morning when she was snatched in Barangay Libug Kabaw in Panglima Estino town.
The Philippine National Police’s Anti Kidnapping Group said Bernabe was assigned to the district hospital in Luuk town.
Chief Insp. Arthur Valdez of the AKG said Bernabe was believed to have been brought to Barangay Bagsak in Talipao town.
Last Wednesday, Ronald Pelegrin, 39, was released right inside the Sulu provincial capitol in Patikul town.
Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita, Sulu police director, said Pelegrin, a resident of Zamboanga, told the authorities he was kept for 12 days by his captors in barangay Danag, also in Patikul, before freeing him “within the motor pool area.”
Pelegrin and his cousin, Dante Avilla, an assistant mechanic, were kidnapped on the night of August 16. Avilla resisted the armed men and was killed in the process.
The kidnappers had demanded P15 million in exchange for Pelegrin’s freedom but it was not clear if any ransom was paid or who paid it, Valdez said.
Pelegrin told the Inquirer during phone conversation Thursday that his family did not pay a single centavo to the kidnappers.
“I know they were asking for ransom but you can see how poor we are,” Pelegrin said in a telephone interview.
Over a dozen regular or contractual employees of the Sulu government have been taken captive since 2013 .
Valdez said the Abu Sayyaf could be trying to make a statement, especially against Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan, who has been campaigning against the bandit group.
“They want to send a message to the Sulu government that they can create trouble by taking people, especially the easy preys,” Valdez said.
He said the authorities had come to this conclusion following the Abu Sayyaf’s new-found liking for locals, regardless of their status in life.
Valdez said unlike previous kidnappings in which only people with money were targeted, the Abu Sayyaf was now taking just about anybody who is easy prey.
“It’s more based on vulnerability now,” he added.
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