ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine military has launched an operation to rescue three people—two of them members of the Coast Guard—being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao, officials said on Saturday.
The bandit group threatened to behead the hostages, namely; Seaman First Class Rodlyn Pagaling Seaman Second Class Gringo Villaruz, and Barangay Aligway Island Chairman Rudy Boligao of Dapitan City, if the Aquino government fails to pay their ransom demand.
The bandits have reportedly demanded P1 million in exchange for the safe release of the hostages who were abducted last May 4 on Aliguay Island in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.
Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command information officer, said the military already coordinated with police authorities on implementing plans to rescue the hostages.
“The Western Mindanao Command, through our Task Forces on the ground, is in close coordination with the local police and local government unit to expedite arrest of the perpetrators and facilitate the safe release of the kidnap victims,” Muyuela said.
Muyuela added that the city government of Dapitan already convened the City Crisis Management Committee to look into the incident.
A video, which was posted by the bandit group that went went viral on Wednesday, showed the hostages with their eyes covered, their hands tied behind their back and begging the Aquino government to help them. One of the captors held a bolo to one of the men’s neck.
The Philippine Coast Guard has confirmed the two men in the video were Villaruz and Pagaling.