MANILA – The two Filipino cameramen taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf last June 2012 were treated well by the Islamist militants, but they are unsure if Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani was similarly left unharmed.
Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela, who were released by the Abu Sayyaf Saturday morning and secured by police Sunday, were presented to the media by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and the Philippine National Police Monday afternoon at Camp Crame.
In recalling their nearly eight-month ordeal, Vela said they were treated well by their captors despite being informed that they were hostages.
“Ang trato sa amin, parang anak,” said Vela, who had to use a wheelchair due to injuries suffered on his legs. “Mahusay ang alaga sa amin. Ni kurot, hindi kami sinaktan.”
“Kung ano kinakain nila, yun ang kakainin namin. Kung gusto namin kumuha ng prutas, pwede basta magpaalam lang kami sa kanila,” he added.
Vela reiterated his ealier statement that he does not know Atyani’s whereabouts, since he and Letrero were separated from the Jordanian journalist after five days in captivity.
“Si Baker, kasama namin ng five days... Kung pwede lang magpatayan ang Muslim sa Muslim, gagawin ni Baker na makipagpatayan sa Abu Sayyaf,” Vela said.
“After noong five days, hindi na namin siya nakita,” he added.
Atyani, Vela and Letrero were taken captive by the Abu Sayyaf in June 2012. They were scheduled to do an interview for a foreign news service but afterwards, they were not allowed to leave.
Vela and Letrero were freed around 6:00 p.m. Saturday in Patikul, Sulu. They stayed overnight in a hotel and were retrieved by the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group and Sulu police on Sunday.
Vela said they were unaware if any ransom was paid for their release.
“Wala kaming alam na pera sa negosasyon,” he said. “Nagulat na lang kami ng bigla... Nabulaga ako ng bigla akong nasa bayan ng Sulu.”
Vela believes he saw about 400 members of the Abu Sayyaf when he was held hostage.
Roxas said Vela and Letrero will be reunited with their families as soon as they are debriefed by the PNP. With reports from Agence France-Presse and ANC.