SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: The Anti-Kidnapping Group, the Sulu Provincial Police Office and the 501st Brigade under the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu recovered alive two kidnap victims at Daang Puti, Patikul, Sulu on Thursday afternoon, a military official said on Sunday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said Reyjim Rocabo, 41, a mechanic, and Roel Leones, 37, a crew—both from Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur—were on board a motorcycle when intercepted and recovered by government forces.
Upon verification, the two said they were kept under the custody of a certain Ben Tatoo and Almujer Yaddah during their captivity along with some other kidnap victims, Petinglay added.
Rocabo and Leones are crew of FB Ramona 2 who were forcibly taken by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) along with two other boat crew last December 20, 2016 on the high seas of the Celebes.
Abducted with Rocabo and Leones were Noel Besconde, boat captain, and Roy Borja Ramos, also a crew.
On April 13, after more than three months in captivity, Besconde was beheaded by the group of Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Almujer Yadah at Sitio Pantay Minol, Barangay Tanum, Patikul, Sulu.
On June 8, Roy Borja Ramos, was rescued by government forces at Barangay Lagtoh, Talipao, Sulu after he was able to escape his captors in Patikul area two days before.
“Rocabo and Leones are now under the custody of the Anti-Kidnapping Group and will eventually be turned over to their families after actionable information is taken from them,” Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, JTF Sulu commander, said.
“As we speak, follow-up operations, in coordination with the Sulu police, are ongoing for the possible rescue of the other kidnap victims,” Sobejana added.
“We call on the people of Sulu to continue helping us in this endeavor. A peaceful and progressive community will never be achieved if we will not take a strong stand against these local terrorists,” the JTF Sulu commander said.
“Every one of us is part of the solution, we must join the fight and help save our communities,” Sobejana added.
Twenty kidnap victims remain in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group, a terrorist band affiliated with the Islamic State or IS.
Of the 20, 16 are foreigners and four are Filipinos, according to Sobejana.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL