ZAMBOANGA – The Marine forces recovered Thursday the 43-year-old public school canteen manager who was recently abducted in Basilan while Air Force operatives arrested an Abu Sayyaf member, the military said Thursday.
First Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) information officer, said the victim, Examinda Lindio, was rescued around 2 p.m. Thursday at the residence of the suspect in the village of Maloong San Jose, Lamitan City.
Cacho said the suspect, Arvin Guirny Artiaga, 30, was arrested by the Marine troops around 11:19 a.m. Thursday, almost three hours before the victim was rescued. Artiaga was in the same place where Lindio was recovered.
Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay said members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 launched the rescue operations on Thursday afternoon after intelligence information led them to the area with a seemingly abandoned structure.
The troops later discovered Lindio in the "underground room" of the structure.
Furigay said the kidnappers must have noticed incoming soldiers because the armed men supposed to be guarding the victim were gone when the Marines arrived.
Lindio was earlier reported missing since she failed to return home after she left Saturday from home at Idris Drive, Maganda village, Lamitan City.
Lindio’s family later received a call from a man claiming to be an Abu Sayyaf bandit and demanded a P2 million ransom.
An Abu Sayyaf group led by Commander Pulah Montong was tagged responsible in Lindio’s abduction prompting police and military to hunt Montong’s group.
Cacho said both Artiaga and Lindio underwent custodial debriefing at the headquarters of the First Marine Brigade aimed to unearth the real story behind the incident.
The rescued victim was turned over to Brigadier General Eugenio Clemen, the Marine commander in the area, and Furigay, after the debriefing.
Meanwhile, Philippine Air Force spokesman Gerardo Zamudio Jr. said the arrest of Burrong Rasul Barro alias Abu Mohammad was a result of a three-month operation of their intelligence personnel targeting Abu Sayyaf members operating in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
The captured terrorist has a standing warrant of arrest issued by Judge Toribio Ilao of the Regional Trial Court Branch 266 in Pasig City in connection with a criminal case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention arising from the Jehovah’s Witnesses kidnapping incident on August 20, 2002 in Sulu.
Barro, who was positively identified by a witness who is now being protected under the government’s witness protection program, will be committed to the court Friday.
PAF commanding General Oscar Rabena lauded elements of the 300th Air Intelligence Service Group for their contribution to Task Force Zamboanga and Eastern Mindanao Command’s drive to defeat the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“The PAF will continue on contributing towards the fulfillment of this goal,” said Rabena.
Barro, who carries a reward of P350,000 for his arrest, is listed number 64 in the Department of National Defense-Department of Interior and Local Government Joint Order Number 11 dated April 23, 2009.
He is described by operatives as a slippery criminal who has been eluding law enforcers by shuttling back and forth between Basilan, Zamboanga and Sulu.
According to Zamudio, the PAF intelligence agents in Basilan immediately called Task Force Zamboanga to apprehend the fugitive after confirming that Barro boarded the ferry around 7 a.m. Wednesday towards Zamboanga. (VR/Bong Garcia/Sunnex)