• Abu Sayyaf frees DSWD employee

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Abu Sayyaf on Tuesday released the last of four social workers kidnapped last week in Sulu.

    Sulu police chief Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita on Wednesday said Roberto Saputalo was recovered near the village of Kagay in Talipao town late Tuesday.

    “His safe release was due to the pressure of law enforcement operations by security sector and the local government,” Orbita told The Manila Times.

    He said Saputalo was brought to the provincial hospital for routine check-up before he was reunited with his family.

    The militant group had earlier released Nurhati and Mark Sicangco in the village of Danag in Patikul town. The couple was fetched by their relatives and brought to the house of the local vice mayor. It was unknown if ransoms were paid for their safe release.

    Before the Sicangco couple’s release, the Talipao Municipal Police said Lerna Jurah was freed on July 25 near the detachment of the Philippine Marines in Barangay Danag in Patikul.

    The four social workers were conducting a house-to-house survey on the government’s anti-poverty program for the Department of Social Welfare and Development when armed men seized them in the village of Upper Sinumaan in Talipao town.

    The Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least 10 kidnapped victims, including foreigners seized from the neighboring Tawi-Tawi province and Sabah in Malaysia.

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