ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Invoking the spirit of Ramadan, Social Welfare (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman has appealed to the Abu Sayyaf bandit group to release the three social workers seized Thursday in Sulu.
“We are praying earnestly in this holy month of Ramadan for compassion. Our colleagues from DSWD-ARMM were only doing their duty to help the poor people of Talipao – their brothers and sisters in Islam,” Soliman said in a statement posted on the DSWD website Friday.
The DSWD chief expressed sadness over the kidnapping of the victims, who were sent to the area to conduct a survey on poor families for its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and to coordinate with the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) program.
Police said the victims were snatched at about 2 p.m. while on their way to validate family-beneficiaries of conditional cash transfer program in Barangay Upper Sinumaan.
The identities of the victims have been withheld for security reasons, according to Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, Sulu police director.
Orbita gave an assurance that efforts have been taken for the safe release of the victims, who are all Muslims and natives of the province.
Soliman said they are working with Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman, Sulu Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan and Talipao Mayor Sitti Raya Tulawie to ensure the safe release of the victims.