Police chief ordered to monitor Agusan kidnapping

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Monday, April 4, 2011

MANILA (Updated 2:42 p.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III ordered police officials on Monday to closely monitor the kidnapping incident in Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur province, where 13 civilians are still being held hostage.

Aquino said in an ambush interview in Malacañang that National Police Chief Raul Bacalzo and several other police officers are on the way to Agusan del Sur to personally check the situation on the ground.

He, however, clarified that the police chief will not be there to take over but only to "make sure that every item on the crisis management committee (CMC) will be implemented and followed."


Fifteen people (not 16 as earlier reported) were abducted Friday by five Manobo tribesmen while walking along a road from graduation ceremonies at three schools in Prosperidad town. They were taken at gunpoint to a forested area of the municipality in southeastern Agusan del Sur.

The hostage-takers demanded for the release of tribal leader Jobert "Ondo" Perez, who was jailed for taking 79 people hostage in 2009 over a long-running clan feud in Agusan, in exchange for the freedom of the 15 hostages.

On Sunday, a local court granted temporary freedom to Perez for him to help in the negotiation.

Three hours after Perez's release, the hostage-takers temporarily freed two of the hostages to get food, water and medicine for the kidnappers and their hostages.

"They threatened to harm the remaining hostages if the two will not return," Senior Superintendent Nestor Fajura said. "We've assured them the two will be back."

Prosperidad Mayor Albin Magdamit, however, said the local crisis committee later decided not to send back the two men for their safety. He said the hostage-takers were told by phone that their relatives had been asked to deliver the food to their jungle hideout.

In return, officials appealed to the hostage-takers to free two children -- a boy and a girl, who was stricken with fever, Magdamit said. One of the children had fallen ill since Saturday.

Aquino said Sunday that he was pleased with the release of Lastimando and Cabantac. He assured that the crisis committee is on top of the situation.

As of this posting, 13 hostages remain in the hands of the Perez kidnap group.

Some of the remaining hostages were identified as Narciso Oliveros, Department of Education district supervisor; Apolono Alibangbang, principal; Joel Sausa, property custodian; Manuel Mordano, teacher; Felipina Quitoy, teacher; Allan Gallano, teacher; Mary Jane Bedrijo, volunteer teacher; and Arnold Quitoy, Pido Dolorito, Girlie Monticalbo, Marical Lagnazon, and Shen-shen Cabagtag.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government's paramount concern is the safety of the hostages, especially the two minors who were among those kidnapped. (Sunnex)

Local news

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