GOVERNMENT troops rescued on Friday, November 17, five persons who were captured by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the coastal area of Pangutaran, Sulu, a military official said Monday.

Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Jo-ann Petinglay said the Joint Task Force Tawi-tawi and the Naval Task Group of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao Command recovered the victims in the waters off Sugbay Island, Languyan, Tawi Tawi Province at around 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The victims were identified as Vergel Arquino, Joshua Ybanez, Emo Fausto, Junald Minalang and Spriano Sordid, all crew members of Fishing Boat Danvil 8. Arquino is from Davao City while the rest are from Pagadian City. They were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf on October 14 in the waters off Poblacion Simbahan, Pangutaran, Sulu.

Western Mindanao Command Navy commander Rear Admiral Rene Medina said they were able to rescue the victims because their security was lax as their captors were on the run due to the continuing military operations against them.

“The timing was critical since the captors may shoot the victims if they will know about the plan. However, the troops were able to lead them to safety through their contacts, thus this rescue,” Medina said.

The rescued persons underwent medical examinations before they were turned over to their families.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez commended his men for the success of the operation.

“For this year alone, our units have been successful in carrying out rescue operations through special operations. Just last week, three Vietnamese kidnap victims were rescued from the hands of the ASG captors also through connections and build up,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)