THE Joint Task Forces Zamboanga and Basilan deployed troops to assist in the search and rescue operations of a couple seized by gunmen in Zamboanga del Norte.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Naval Forces Western Mindanao has also maximized and alerted its task groups in all areas in the region to help locate the couple-victims.

The couple, Jose Duterte, 60, and his wife, Jessica, 52, was seized by seven gunmen around 7:20 p.m. Friday from their residence in the village of Santa Maria, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

The victims were having a conversation when suddenly the gunmen clad in bonnet masks and police uniforms arrived and abducted them.

The victims were forced to board on a waiting speed boat that sped off towards the coastal areas of Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte.

“We understand the situation of the families of the victims and we sympathize with them. It is in this light that our troops and the PNP (Philippine National Police) are doing their best to bring the victims back to their family,” Galvez said.

“We ask for cooperation from the family and those who know any information about the incident as no matter how small, it might be of use to the immediate rescue of the victims,” Galvez added.

He said Westmincom continues to assist the police and local government units in tracking down the perpetrators and rescuing the victims. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)