ZAMBOANGA CITY: Malaysian authorities detained a Filipino woman who was freed by the Abu Sayyaf after she and a Chinese tourist were kidnapped by militants tied to Jemaah Islamiya in the southern Philippines.
Kuala Lumpur-based news website Rakyat Post based reported on Sunday that 40-year-old Marcy Dayawan is being held a day after she and Chinese holidaymaker Gao Huayun, 29, were freed by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu province.
The two were kidnapped on April 2 from the Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort in the town of Semporna in Sabah where Dayawan works.
The report quoted Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib as saying that Dayawan is being interrogated by the Royal Malaysia Police in Kuala Lumpur in connection with the investigation on the the kidnappings.
“We will detain her further until we are satisfied and confident that she is not involved in the kidnapping incident,” he said.
The police commissioner said Dayawan is an illegal worker and had entered Sabah illegally. He said the Filipina was employed by resort just two months before the kidnappings.
“And if Marcy, who had entered Sabah illegally, is proven to be clean, she will be deported to her country of origin,” he said.
There was no immediate statement from the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila about the detention of Dayawan, and it was unknown if she is being assisted by a lawyer.
The Abu Sayyaf released the two hostages in Parang town after a leader of the former rebel Moro National Liberation Front, Nameh Sangkula, negotiated with the kidnappers for the release of the victims.
It was not immediately known from Philippine authorities how much ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf or how tapped Sangkula to negotiate with the terrorist group, blamed for terrorism and spate of kidnappings in Mindanao region.
The kidnappers originally demanded RM36.4 million or equivalent to almost P500 million for the safe release of the Chinese woman and had threatened to behead Dayawan if ransom is not paid. Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak insisted that no ransom was paid for the release of the hostages.
The two hostages, who were fetched by Filipino soldiers and police officers, were handed over to Malaysian police officials in Sulu and brought them to Sabah and eventually to Kuala Lumpur where Gao is reunited with her family.
Philippine authorities have tagged Abu Sayyaf commanders Murphy Ladja and Alhabsi Misaya in the kidnappings.
Director-General Datuk Mohammad Mentek, of the Eastern Sabah Security Command, has previously linked the kidnappers to the 2000 kidnappings of 21 mostly European holidaymakers and Asian workers at the Pulau Sipadan resort; and also in the kidnapping in November of a Taiwanese woman on Pom Pom Island, also in Sabah.
Malaysian authorities also said gunmen snatched May 6 a Chinese fish farm manager in Lahad Datu town in Sabah and clashed briefly with pursuing patrol before disappearing into the southern Philippines. At least 5 armed men on a speedboat intruded into the Wonderful Terrace and seized the 34-year Yang Zai Lin after he came out to check the commotion at the farm.
The latest abduction has forced Sabah authorities to declare curfew and travel restrictions in several areas there.