MARAWI CITY -- The six sawmill workers abducted on April 4 are still alive and believed to be held hostage by the Maute brothers in Butig town in Lanao del Sur. 

In an emergency meeting with the crisis management committee in Lanao Sur on Wednesday afternoon, Police Senior Superintendent Rustom Duran, provincial police director of Lanao del Sur, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone that they are negotiating with the armed group for the safe release of the workers and Butig town Mayor Ibrahim Macabato has designated an official negotiator.

Duran belied reports that the workers were beheaded and disclosed they have been brought in the outskirts of Butig.

On April 7, a source from Butig who requested not to be named disclosed that the motive of the abduction is to exchange a member of the armed group allegedly captured by the military during the weeklong operations against the Maute brothers in February 20 which lasted until the first week of March.

Duran said the military does not have any captive from the armed group.

The abducted workers have been working at the sawmill in Barangay Sandab in Butig for 12 years now whose families live in Iligan City.

"The abductors have not demanded any ransom payment from the families and relatives of the victims,” Duran added.

Colonel Roseller Murillo, 103rd Brigade commander based in Kampo Ranao in Marawi City, identified the workers as Tado Hanobas, Buloy Hanobas, Makol Hanobas, Gabriel Hanobas, Adonis Hanobas, and a certain Isoy.