ZAMBOANGA CITY: Crewmen of a fishing boat heading to restive Basilan Island were abducted Monday by yet to be identified gunmen.
One of the victims, Ronnie Bancale, was able to phone his wife Marilou to say that his abductors were demanding P1 million in ransom. Marilou then reported the kidnapping to the police.
The identity of the two other victims has yet to be verified although unconfirmed reports identified them as Winie Pandiag and Romeo Rubio.
The fishing boat, registered in Zamboanga del Sur, departed here on Monday and was believed hijacked between Basilan and Zamboanga City.
No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction, although the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) actively operates in Basilan and had been behind previous cases of piracy and kidnapping.
In January 2012, unidentified gunmen also attacked a small fleet of fishing boats off Sibago Island, which is part of Basilan, and killed all but one of the 18 crewmen, who were mostly from Pagadian City. The sole survivor was seriously wounded in the attack.
This attack was believed connected to a turf war among fishermen.