CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Dec. 16, 2010â€”Four kidnap victims were separately released by their abductors in different municipalities in Lanao del Sur on Dec. 14 according to authorities.
First to be freed were Shiela Mae Vidal, 18, and Alcher Balicuatro, 19. They were freed in Piagapo town around 5 a.m. after a week in captivity, said B/Gen. Rey C. Ardo, commanding general of the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry â€œTabakâ€ Division.
In the afternoon of the same day, the kidnappers of Edgar T. Cuajao released him in Lumba Bayabao town after four days in captivity.
Then around 8 in the evening of Tuesday, the fourth kidnap victim, Eufemia Trocio, 53, was freed in Piagapo town after more than a month in captivity.
No ransom were paid for the safe release of the victims, Ardo said, a claim that Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic confirmed.
Salic, head of the Marawi City Crisis Management Committee, helped in negotiating for the release of the victims, Ardo added.
Vidal and Balicuatro, taking up Hotel and Restaurant Management and Agriculture, respectively, at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in the Islamic City of Marawi in Lanao del Sur were kidnapped on morning of Dec. 7 while going back to their dormitories from the universityâ€™s dairy farm.
Vidal is from Butuan City while Balicuatro is a resident of Kapatagan town, Lanao del Norte. They were turned over to MSU President Macapado Muslim and their respective families after their medical check-up at Amai Pakpak Medical Center Tuesday morning.
Salic said that the MSU studentsâ€™ kidnappers were â€œneophytesâ€ in the â€œkidnapping business,â€ thus, they easily succumbed to the pressure put on them by the combined military and police operations.
He said the kidnappers were headed by a certain Jamail Pumbaya, whom the military suspected to be a new member of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Cuajao, on the other hand, was kidnapped in Cagayan de Oro City around 3 p.m. on Dec. 11 when he refused to give in to armed men who forcibly took his Toyota Vios (with plate number XTU 965) while in the vicinity of the business establishment Makro in Barangay Kauswagan, this city.
Authorities later found Cuajaoâ€™s vehicle abandoned in Lumbao Bayabao, Lanao del Sur on Dec. 12 (Sunday).
Ardo said that aside from Salic, Mayor Vicente Emano of Cagayan de Oro and Mayor Gambai Dagalangit of Lumba Bayabao, and Lumba Bayabaoâ€™s Council of Elders also helped in the negotiations for Cuajaoâ€™s freedom.
He said that Cuajaoâ€™s kidnappers were led by a certain Ali Acbar Dagalangit, whose grandfather Lt. Col. Felipino Dagalangit (retired), also participated in the negotiations.
Ardo, however, could not connect the relationship of the kidnapper to the townâ€™s mayor.
Iligan City businesswoman Trocio, on the other hand, was kidnapped on November 3 but her family kept the information to themselves as they negotiated with the kidnappers for her release for fear that something bad might happen to her if authorities were involved.
But after her family failed to successfully negotiate with the kidnappers, her brother, Edmundo Silang, finally reported the kidnapping on November 22, said Renato Mandawe of the National Bureau of Investigation.
He said the kidnappers asked for a P300,000 ransom.
Mandawe said that after Silang reported Trocioâ€™s kidnapping, he immediately coordinated with Ardo for a rescue operation.
Both Ardo and Mandawe also coordinated with Mayor Salic, which resulted to her freedom from her kidnappers without any ransom paid. (Bong D. Fabe)