ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine military on Sunday handed over to Vietnam ministry officials three of its kidnapped citizens rescued by troops in Tawi-Tawi on Friday.
Another kidnapped Vietnamese sailor, Nguyin Huu Trong, allegedly died in captivity from a lingering illness.
The three – Buy Xuan Vien, Bui Trung Duc and Nguten Quang Huy – were presented to Nguyen Duc Bien of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who flew to Zamboanga to receive the rescued sailors.
The victims were crew of the cargo ship MV Giang Hai 5 abducted by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits along with over a dozen others last February 25 while sailing off the Sulu Archipelago.
They were expected to be presented to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, who is in Manila for the Asean Summit.
Journalists were not invited to the handover of the sailors at the Western Mindanao Command and security officials also did not provide details of so-called special operations launched by the military last Friday on Languyan Island that resulted in the recovery of the Vietnamese.
Brigadier General Custodio Parcon Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said Marines and Navy forces were involved in the operations.
“Through the operations conducted by our Marines and Navy, we successfully recovered the Vietnamese hostages off Tawi-Tawi waters, and we mean to intensify our offensives to pressure the bandits to yield,” he said in a statement released on the same day the hostages were freed.
Two of the crew were also killed by the bandits while attempting to escape during the abduction while the rest had been recovered by soldiers.