THE Dabawenyo who is among the three men abducted by the Abu Sayyaf last May 4 in Aliguay Island in Dapitan is a graduate of the University of Mindanao (UM).
His relatives are still in Davao City and have been anxiously waiting for updates since a video of him pleading for his life was uploaded on the Internet.
The Dabawenyo, identified as Gringo Villaruz, 28, was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf along with Rod Pagaling and Aliguay brangay chair Rodolfo Boligao. Both Villaruz and Pagaling are members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
A four-minute video that went viral on social media Wednesday morning had the three blindfolded men, half-naked and kneeling with more or less eight armed men in masks behind them, take turns pleading for help from President Benigno Aquino III.
"Pugutan nila kami nila ng ulo kung hindi maibibigay yung gusto nila. Tulungan niyo kami (They will behead us if they will not get what they are demanding)," Villaruz said.
Villaruz graduated from Electrical Technology program at the UM last 2006.
The Abu Sayyaf is demanding a P1-million ransom for each captive.
Eva Fatima Villacruz-Abarquez, aunt of Gringo, told Sun.Star Davao in an interview that they've been asking for assistance from the PCG to rescue the three captives.
"Sige mi'g balik-balik sa headquarters sa PCG diri sa Davao pero wala man silay gihatag pa na update (We've been visiting the PCG headquarters here but we have not received any updates)," Abarquez said.
"Kadtong akong pag-umangkon ma-assign to siya kauban ang isa pa ka coast guard didto sa isa ka isla or resort didto sa Dapitan. Pero ang akoa pwede ba diay na bulag-bulag sila i-assign (My nephew was assigned together with Pagaling in a remote resort in Dapitan. My question is that, is it normal for coast guard to assign personnel separately in remote areas)?" she asked.
To this, PCG-Davao district commander commodore Joselito Dela Cruz said there is nothing unusual about such deployment in their operations.
"Normally, yan ang policy natin na idedeploy sila sa malalayo na lugar. It's part of their training and exposure," Dela Cruz said.
Abarquez said the mother of Gringo was not yet informed regarding the abduction of her son, saying she hopes the government through President Aquino will give in to the demands of Abu Sayyaf.
"Wala pa gyud to kabalo iyang Mama sa nahitabo. Ikatulo na to na stroke ug kelangan bantayan sad iyang condition (His mother has not been informed. She is disabled by stroke three times and knowing could worsen her condition)," she said.
Abarquez, meanwhile, said they will also seek help from Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, and President Aquino.
"Dili mi kaproduce sa ransom money (We cannot produce the money for the release of my nephew)," Abarquez said.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a statement to Inquirer.net on Thursday evening, said the government will not hand over money to the bandit groups.
"Government maintains its no ransom policy," Coloma added.
PCG-Davao district commander commodore Joselito Dela Cruz, in a separate phone interview, said that they are already doing something for the release of the three.
"Meron ng mga negosasyon pero hindi na inilalabas sa media," Dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz said that PCG members are being deployed randomly in remote islands in smaller numbers and not as units.
He believes the threat of beheading is intended to pressure the government to give in to the demands of the bandits.
"Always natin ini-implement natin ang no ransom policy in hostage situations. Hindi tayo bumibigay agad sa kanilang mga hiling," he said.
He remained optimistic about the safe release of the three captives.
"We've been coordinating with the local government units along with the grounds units for the possible release," he said. (Sun.Star Davao)