THE Philippine Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion (IB) belied reports that some foreigners were taken hostages in Barangay Astorga, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur over the weekend, although it was confirmed that there was a gunbattle on the slopes of Mt. Apo while a sports event was being held in the area.
Lieutenant Lea Canceran, 39th IB Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer said yesterday they have not received any information of alleged hostage incidents in their area of responsibility contrary to reports.
“Based on our information officer, there was no information regarding the incident,” Canceran said.
SunStar Davao received information from a concerned citizen through Facebook that there were allegedly eight foreigners who are participants of the Boulder Face challenge and Mount Apo Sky Vertical Race who were captured by the lawless elements.
“We just found out from family that people from other countries where taken hostage during competitions to go up Mt Apo. No one has yet to report on this. We heard there are at least eight hostages. Do not know which countries yet. You might want to get information on this as soon as possible,” the message read.
The concerned citizen is an American married to a Filipina from Davao del Sur.
When Sun.Star Davao sought out information soon after receiving the information, it got a confirmation about foreigners being held, but not as hostage.
"For info, regarding s hostage s mga hikers, hindi daw un hostage bli gn hold cla s 39IB, dhil my ongoing ncounter s area, bli kahapon kinuha ndaw cla ng LGU ng municipality of Astorga, davao delsur, yan ang partial info sir (For information about the hostage of hikers, it's not hostage-taking. What happened was the 39IB held them because of the gunbattle in the area. But as of yesterday (Sunday), they were already with the local government unit of barangay Astorga, Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur. That is our initial information)," the well-placed source texted.
The information was denied by 39IB.
Based on the battalion’s initial result of query on hostage-taking in Mt. Apo yesterday, the Boulder Face challenge and Mount Apo Sky Vertical Race was held last April 21 and 22, 2018 with more or less 170 participants.
The race started at the Municipal Plaza of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur and traversed through the barangays (villages) of Coronon, Astorga, Tibolo, Tudaya, Mt Apo Peak going back to the Plaza.
“As per organizers of the race all participants were accounted when the race was terminated,” their information said.
Although there was an encounter near the area, they clarified that the nearest route of the race to the encounter site is approximately eight kilometers away.