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MILF vows to help search for 4 ‘kidnapped’ in Maguindanao

/ 02:31 PM April 05, 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Sunday said it would help look for four people from General Santos City whom a police official said had been abducted in Maguindanao.

AFP FILE PHOTO

AFP FILE PHOTO

This developed as friends of Francis Wong – one of those reportedly kidnapped – said on Facebook that he had not been returning calls or answering text messages since March 29.

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BACKSTORY: Pentagon Gang strikes again, takes 4 captives

On his Facebook wall, Wong’s friends said they were hoping he and his companions had not been harmed.
Another friend urged the four to just follow what their captors tell them to do.
Cotabato City police director Senior Superintendent Roland Balquin identified Wong’s companions as Jason Cababayao, a member of a family owning the J Trade Concrete Products and Construction Supply in General Santos City; architect Raulito Suyom Jr.; and Rho Steven.

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The four are partners in a construction business who were on their way to this city to meet a client when abducted in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao, said Balquin.

The police official said he could not provide more details on the kidnapping as the police’s anti-kidnapping task force had taken over the case.

Von Al Haq, chief of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, has told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone they would mobilize their men to locate the victims.

He said the MILF would work with the government through the Adhoc Joint Action Group (Ahjag).

“We are going to help. We will coordinate with our counterparts for the safe release of the victims,” he said.

Balquin said the kidnappers have contacted the victims’ families based on reports they were getting but that these were still being double-checked.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway rebel group from the MILF in Maguindanao, denied any involvement in the kidnapping.

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Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, said he only heard of the kidnapping on the radio and could not say whether it actually took place.
As of Sunday, authorities had not identified any group behind the kidnapping but previous abductions here and in Central Mindanao were pinned on the so-called Pentagon Gang, which has links with the Abu Sayyaf.

The Pentagon Gang was founded in the 1980s by former Moro National Liberation Front commander Faisal Marohombsar, who was later slain in a clash with government troops. It operates through smaller cells that are spread throughout Mindanao.

Among the gang’s previous victims included Italian priest Fr. Giuseppe Piarantoni, who was snatched on Oct. 17, 2001, while celebrating Mass in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur.

The group was also blamed for the 2001 kidnapping of five Chinese engineers working on a government irrigation project in North Cotabato.

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TAGS: Abu Misri Mama, abu sayyaf, Adhoc Joint Action Group, AHJAG, Anti-Kidnapping Task Force, armed groups, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, businessmen, Cotabato City police, Crime, crime victims, Faisal Marohombsar, Francis Wong, Giuseppe Piarantoni, Jason Cababayao, Kidnapping, law enforcement, Maguindanao, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, News, Pentagon Gang, Police, police investigation, Raulito Suyom Jr., Regions, rescue operations, Rho Steven, Roland Balquin, Von Al Haq
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