ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf terrorists have freed a 42-year-old man they abducted in Zamboanga Sibugay province in August but continue to hold in captivity his eight-year-old son in Sulu.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Wednesday said Elmer Romoc was released on November 14 in Jolo town and traveled alone on a ferry for Zamboanga City where his wife and other relatives and policemen fetched him the next day.
It was unknown how much ransom his family paid to the Abu Sayyaf.
The victim was immediately taken to the police headquarters here where he gave a statement but details of the debriefing were not made public.
Romoc, his wife Nora and their son Ricson were kidnapped on August 5, 2016 from the village of Kulisap in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay and spirited out on a motorboat to Sulu.
He is an employee of the municipal treasurer’s office of Payao.
On August 22, the rebels freed his wife so she can raise money to pay the ransom.
She took a boat in Jolo and traveled to Zamboanga City and arrived by bus in her cousin’s house in Siay town, also in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Authorities believed that Nora’s relatives paid an unspecified amount of ransom to the Abu Sayyaf for her liberty.
The relatives also raised money for the safe release of Elmer and their son.
It was not immediately known, however, why the Abu Sayyaf held on to the child.
The military has tagged Ador Abdullah and Haber Susukan as behind the abduction of the family.
Meanwhile, officials in the second district of Sulu vowed to work with security forces to stop unabated kidnappings and proliferation of illegal drugs in the province.
In a meeting also on Wednesday hosted by Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo de la Cruz of the AFP Westmincom, the officials led by Rep. Abdulmunir Mundoc Arbison assured the military and the police of their assistance in the campaign.
Brig. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, AFP’s Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the government will succeed in ending the group’s nefarious activities in the province through concerted efforts of AFP units and local leaders in Sulu.
Government forces in July launched an all-out offensive against the bandits’ strongholds in Sulu and Basilan after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the” total decimation” of the extremist group.
But despite the all-out offensive, the terrorist group still managed to pull off kidnapping activities the latest of which was the abduction of five crew of a Vietnamese cargo vessel off Basilan last Friday.
This brought to eight the number of people abducted from vessels in the region over the past week, including an elderly German sailor whose woman companion was found dead inside a yacht with the German flag and marked “Rock All” off Laparan Island in the town of Pangutaran, Sulu.