ZAMBOANGA CITY: Three of the four construction workers held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) last month escaped from their captors in Sulu on Friday, a day after soldiers clashed with the bandits.
Officials identified them as Felimon Cordero, Jayson Baylosis and Joel Adanza. The fate of the fourth hostage, Edmund Ramos, was unknown.
No other details were made available by the officials, but the escape was confirmed by the local government, citing a report by Army Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu.
The victims, all natives of Zamboanga City, were kidnapped in July in Patikul town and the Abu Sayyaf had threatened to execute the hostages on Thursday if their families or the government fail to pay millions of pesos in ransom.
There was no immediate statement from the Western Mindanao Command, but the daring escape occurred after soldiers clashed with the bandits in Kalingalan Caluang town on Thursday that left two Marines and five gunmen dead. Six other bandits were captured by the soldiers after the four hours of fierce clashes in the village of Pang.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, regional chief of the Philippine Navy, said the operations continue against the ASG in Sulu despite the involvement of Marine forces in fighting local Islamic State-inspired terrorists in the war-torn city of Marawi since May 23.
“Despite its heavy involvement in the Marawi City siege, we assure that Fleet-Marine Forces will continue to exercise vigilance in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi area to protect its people from those who threaten the peace, stability and development of the region,” he said.
Authorities have blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the spate of ransom kidnappings and terrorism in Mindanao. The group is still holding at least 20 hostages, mostly foreigners.