Filipino hostage freed; 6 remain captives-A A +A
Sunday, February 24, 2013
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf bandits have released a Filipino businessman in the island province of Sulu but there is no word on the fate of six foreign captives.
Grocery store owner Edgar Fabella, who was kidnapped last January in southern Zamboanga city, was released by the Abu Sayyaf group early Friday near the port on Jolo island, said Sulu provincial police Chief Antonio Freyra.
The militants are still holding a Jordanian journalist, bird watchers from Switzerland and Holland, a Malaysian, a Japanese treasure hunter and an ex-soldier from Australia.
Two Filipinos who were working for the Jordanian were also released early this month.
Fabella was presented to the media a few hours after he arrived in this city from Jolo, Sulu, where he was freed.
“Nabunutan tayo ng tinik. It’s been 42 days since Edgar Fabella was taken captive,” Mayor Celso Lobregat said Saturday. “Salamat sa Diyos at nakalaya na siya.”
Fabella said his captors treated him well and in turn he helped them cook food.
“It’s good that they took pity on me and realized that my family is very poor. I am just a carinderia (eatery) owner,” Fabella said.
“I thank God that I am home and reunited with my family,” he added.
Fabella said he was brought to an unidentified destination. He also said he could not identify his abductors nor their group.
Visibly tired and dazed, Fabella begged to be excused after answering a few questions from the media.
Lobregat said Fabella was released 10 a.m. Friday in the vicinity of Jolo wharf after series of negotiations between the captors and the family.
He hinted that the family sought his assistance in the course of the negotiations and other concerns, but he said the City Government complied with the no-ransom policy.
The mayor admitted that the abductors initially demanded P20 million and later lowered the amount to P5 million. He added that the abductors later realized the Fabella family has no means of paying any ransom for the release of the victim.
Fabella also denied paying for his freedom. "I have no money to pay a ransom," he said.
The police and the military have been strengthened in the coastal areas through the deployment of uniformed and plainclothesmen and the augmentation of troops to prevent similar incidences in the future.
Abu Sayyaf bandits clashed fiercely with a larger rebel group they had long coexisted with, leaving at least 21 combatants dead in the southern town of Patikul, Sulu province.
A commander with the Moro National Liberation Front, which has an autonomy deal with the government, said his group battled Abu Sayyaf gunmen Sunday after the Abu Sayyaf refused to free several foreign hostages it has held in jungle lairs for months. (Bong Garcia/AP/Sunnex)