KIDAPAWAN CITY: Two of the remaining six kidnapped students of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) were released on Thursday by their abductors in remote towns of Lanao del Norte which authorities attributed to the assistance of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The released victims – Berzon Paeste and Cidrick Jamias – were found by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents working with police and military officers, at the boundary of Poona-Piagapo and Munai towns in Lanao del Norte, known MILF lair under the command of Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo.
Lawyer Abdul Jamal Dimaporo, NBI-Iligan District head agent-in-charge, clarified that no ransom was paid to the kidnappers despite reports that P5-million ransom was allegedly demanded for the release of their hostages.
Paeste and Jamias were abducted on June 4 with four other victims – Juhari Gubat, Kevin Limpin, Hannah Yurong, and Eloisa Lacson, MSU-IIT students, except for Lacson.
Statements issued by MSU-IIT said the victims were hanging out in a convenience store outside the campus in Barangay Tibanga in Iligan City on night before they were abducted.
After a few drinks, the group decided to leave for Maranding town, also in Lanao del Norte, with a certain Moamar as driver of a white Toyota Revo, plate number KGJ-661.
Authorities later traced the vehicle’s faked or stolen plate number as registered to a Multicab vehicle in Cagayan de Oro City.
On the road, armed men allegedly flagged them down the victims along Barangay Buru-un, near the Timoga Spring pools, and were blindfolded until they reached Munai.
Gubat, Limpin, Yurong and Lacson were released on June 6 and given P200 by their abductors for their fare back home. Paeste and Jamias, however were held and interrogated inside the house of Moamar about their “parents’ jobs.”
Moamar claimed to be a cousin of Gubat, but the student denied it as saying he had known Moamar only few hours before they were kidnapped.
Dimaporo said the victims’ release was with the help of the MILF rebels who partnered with the government for peace and order in Muslim region, through Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).
Authorities said charges against the unnamed suspects, they identified only as “kidnapped for ransom group” and were not part of threat groups operating in the region.