Abu Sayyaf dumps body of barangay captain on Sulu highway
A barangay (village) captain held hostage by Abu Sayyaf bandits has been found beheaded on a highway in a remote barangay in Jolo in Sulu province, police and military officials said on Wednesday.
Rodolfo Boligao, barangay captain of Aliguay Island in Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte, was captured on May 4 by the Abu Sayyaf along with Coast Guard servicemen, Seaman 2nd Class Gringo Villaruz and Seaman 1st Class Rodlyn Pagaling.
The bandits have reportedly demanded P10 million for the safe release of the three captives.
The government rejected the ransom demand.
The fate of the Coast Guard men is unknown.
Navy Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad of the military’s Joint Task Force Zambasulta said negotiations for the release of Villaruz and Pagaling are ongoing.
“Ongoing negotiations pa rin, sabay-sabay sila but iba ang negotiator,” he told The Manila Times [The negotiations are going on but through a different negotiator].
Trinidad did not say who were negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf but the bandits earlier warned that they would kill the hostages if the Aquino government failed to heed their ransom demand.
Boligao’s handcuffed remains were found on Tuesday evening, with his severed head placed by his side, said Chief Insp. Walter Anayo, police chief of Maimbung town where the body was recovered.
A piece of paper with the victim’s name written on it was placed on top of the body, he added.
Trinidad said Boligao was executed after a civilian negotiator failed to meet the ransom demand of the bandits.
“It appears he was beheaded right there on the road,” Sulu provincial police chief, Senior Supt Mario Buyuccan, said.
“The body was intentionally left in the middle of the road so that people could find it,” he added.
Heartless, inhuman brutality
Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao strongly condemned the beheading.
“We condemn this heartless and inhuman brutality committed by Abu Sayyaf, a group whose only desire is to sow terror among our people. This is nothing but an evil and cowardly act of terrorism. The perpetrators must be hunted down and be brought to justice and these attacks must be stopped immediately,” Hataman said.
“We offer our condolences to the family of Rodolfo Boligao, the recent victim of a heinous attack. For you we pray courage and peace as we join your clamor for justice,” he added.
The Philippine military said it has coordinated with police and local government authorities of Dapitan to expedite the arrest of the perpetrators and facilitate the safe release of the kidnap victims.
In June, a video posted on Facebook showed the hostages–their eyes covered with handkerchief and hands tied behind their back–begging the Aquino government to help them, saying their captors have threatened to decapitate all of them if their demands were not met.
It was unknown who originally uploaded the video clip that ran almost 4 minutes but the video was shared by viewers on Facebook.
The Philippine Coast Guard has confirmed the two men in the video were Villaruz and Pagaling, and said it will not pay ransom to the kidnappers.
“Nanawagan [ako]sa pamahalaan na tulungan kami, lalo na si President Aquino, tulungan mo kami… papatayin kami nila. Maawa ka sa amin, sa mga opisyales ng gobyerno, sa pamilya namin tulungan ninyo kami,” the horrified Pagaling said, his voice trembling and body shaking from extreme fear [I am appealing to the government; particularly to President Aquino to help us…they are threatening to kill us all. Have mercy on us, officials of this government, our families, please help us].
His companion, Villaruz, also made a similar appeal. “Humihingi kami ng tulong galing sa kataas-taasan pamahalaan sa Pilipinas, Sir, tulungan mo kami, hindi kami puwedeng magtagal dito kasi kukunan kami ng ulo kung yun hinihingi nila ay hindi maibigay. Kung sino ang nakapanood ng video nito tulungan ninyo kami, maawa kayo sa amin [We are begging for help to the highest official of the Philippine government, Sir help us. We cannot stay here longer because they will behead us if their demands are not met. Whoever is watching this video, please help us, have pity on us].
Boligao also appealed to politicians in Dapitan City to help them. “Help us, please have mercy on us,” he said.
One of the armed men in the video, who was wearing a police uniform, read a message from his cell phone and said, “Kami ay nakabihag ng dalawang Coast Guard at isang barangay captain, nanawagan kami na maibigay ninyo ang hinihingi namin sa lalong madaling panahon kung hindi ninyo maibigay ang hinihingi namin ay pupugutan namin ang ulo ng isa sa mga bihag na ito o lahat sila [We are holding two Coast Guard and a village chieftain, we are calling on the government to give us our demand soon and if you will not heed to our demand, we shall behead one of the hostages, or all of them].
The military said the Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least seven Filipino and foreigners they kidnapped elsewhere.
WITH AFP, PNA AND ANTHONY VARGAS