Too poor to pay ransom, 2 Abu captives freed in Sulu
Two kidnapped government employees were released on Sunday night in Sulu by the Abu Sayyaf Group despite failure of their families to pay ransom in exchange for their liberty.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) commander, said Alriznor Halis, a driver from Luuk town, and Aljimar Ahari, assistant driver from Indanan town, were released by their captors at about 8:30 p.m., or barely six hours after they were forcibly taken by the ASG at Sitio Bsunoh Bangkal in Barangay Bangkal in Patikul.
Both are contractual employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
According to Sobejana, the victims believed they were just used as shields by withdrawing ASG members who were being pursued by the military.
The victims said they were also used as guides by the ASG in getting out of the area but they all got lost until the ASG decided to let them go. Troops from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion later found them wandering in the street and led them to safety.
Sobejana said that during the debriefing, the father of one of the drivers told the military that he negotiated for the release and that the captors demanded P2-million ransom.
But when the father insisted that he did not even have P20 in his pocket, the ASG probably thought it would be useless to continue to ask for ransom, he said.
Sobejana himself believed there were two angles in the kidnapping: to use them as shields during the relentless military pursuit operations in Patikul, and to make money but failed because the victims’ families turned out to be too poor to pay ransom.
With the release of the drivers, the number of kidnapped victims still in the hands of the ASG in Sulu was down to 19, Sobejana also said./ac
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