Abu Sayyaf bandits free social worker

ZAMBOANGA (Updated) -- Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits released Thursday night a social worker they kidnapped last Wednesday in Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan, a military spokesman said.

Colonel Rodrigo Gregorio, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said Jenelyn Entera, was freed around 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Marang village in Sumisip town through negotiations.

Gregorio said Entera was released to Sumisip town mayor Gulam Roy Hataman and 64th Infantry Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Leonardo Dadumos.

"The safe release was made possible through the collective negotiation efforts, conducted initially by local government officials of Ungkaya Pukan," said Gregorio.

Entera was abducted by suspected Abu Sayyaf men Wednesday while inspecting a project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Ungkaya Pukan town.

After the abduction, soldiers from the 18th and 64th infantry battalions have been deployed to conduct pursuit operations against the kidnappers. The 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion was also dispatched "to maintain pressure and contain the area."

A crisis management committee was also activated after the abduction.

Entera's release came after the local crisis committee has successfully negotiated for her safe release, Basilan police director Mario Dapilloza said.

Local officials have also sought the assistance of the 104th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to help in securing the release of the victim.

Entera was inspecting some of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) when four suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits seized her.

The suspects forced Entera to board one of the two motorcycles and sped towards Sumisisp. Two of the suspects have been identified only as a certain Idol and a certain Ulay.

The release of Entera has left a Lucio Gonzales, a fishing boat captain, as the remaining hostage in the hands of the kidnappers.

Gonzales, the skipper of F/B Albert, was seized by 15 gunmen around 8 a.m. Tuesday while they were fishing in the vicinity of Mataha, Lantawan, Basilan.

The suspects, who were aboard on two motorboats, locally known as “jungkung,” sped towards the province of Sulu bringing Gonzales along with them.

Reports said the kidnappers have contacted Gonzales’ family on Wednesday demanding a P15 million in exchange for the release of the fishing boat skipper.

"The successful and immediate release of the victim was made possible through the efforts of all concerned local government agencies, the police and the military and other concerned citizens," said Gregorio. (VR/Bong Garcia/Sunnex)

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