Freed Abu Sayyaf captives: They treated us like their sons-A A +A
Monday, February 4, 2013
MANILA -- The two Filipino crewmen of Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani said Monday that members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) treated them well during their almost eight months of captivity in Sulu province.
After being held by ASG since June 2012, cameraman Ramelito Vela and audio technician Roland Letrero were freed in Jolo, Sulu, on Saturday and were brought to Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday.
Vela said the ASG treated them like their own sons.
"Ang trato sa amin ay parang anak. Mahusay ang alaga sa amin. Ni kurot, hindi kami sinaktan. Kung anong kinakain nila, kakainin namin. Kung anong gusto naming kainin na prutas, pwede kaming kumuha basta magpapaalam lang kami sa kanila," said Vela.
He estimated that about 400 ASG members held them in their seven months and 20 days of captivity.
"Kasi sa dami ng nilipatan namin, iba-iba yung taong nagbabantay. 'Pag bawat lipat namin... ang nagbantay sa amin dito 20, paglipat namin 10, paglipat namin 15," said Vela.
He added that they know nothing about the alleged ransom and negotiations behind their release in Sulu on Saturday.
"[N]agulat na lamang kami... Kumbaga nabulaga bakit ako nasa bayan ng Sulu," said Vela.
He also said that they were separated from Atyani five days after they were abducted.
The three were allegedly about to create a documentary on the ASG when they were abducted last year.
"Actually noong nakuha kami sa Jolo, Sulu, may dapat iinterview-hin kami doon, hindi talaga nakuha... tapos hindi na kami pinayagang bumalik," said Vela.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the two released captives will undergo tactical debriefing to be conducted by Philippine National Police (PNP).
Director General Alan Purisima, PNP chief, said they are gathering information and evidences for the possible cases to be filed against the abductors.
Palace, for its part, expressed hope on Monday that the other hostages of the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group will soon be released.
"We certainly welcome the release of the two Filipino cameramen and, of course, we hope that all the captives will be released but, again, that will take some time," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda made the statement following the release of Vela and Letriro, camera crew of Atyani, a Jordanian national.
Authorities believed that Atyani is still alive and is still in the hands of the ASG. Aside from Atyani, two other European nationals were reportedly also in the hands of the bandits.
Vela and Letriro said earlier that they were clueless why they were released by the bandit group and there was also no information whether ransom money was paid for their freedom.
The Abu Sayyaf reportedly had demanded P130 million ($3.1 million) for the release of Atyani and his team.
At the same time, Lacierda said the government will continue to impose a news blackout in efforts to save the remaining hostages of the ASG.
"Any sensitive operation would require government not to disclose to the public for operational reasons and I’m sure the public would sympathize with why we do not disclose sensitive operations," he said. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Jill Beltran/SDR/Sunnex)