An 8-year-old boy held hostage by terrorist group Abu Sayyaf for almost 7 months was freed on Monday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said.
"Rexon Romoc was kidnapped with his parents, Elmer & Nora, in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay on August 5, 2016. They were brought to Sulu and held by ASG for almost 7 months," Dureza said in a statement.
The mother was released in August 2016, while the father was freed in November after the family paid at least P1 million in ransom.
"They sold everything including their small sari-sari store and borrowed from friends and relatives to raise that amount," Dureza said.
But no money was involved in the boy's release after Sulu officials and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members intervened to facilitate the child's release since December, Dureza said.
The boy was flown to Manila to be reunited with his family and to be introduced to President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Tuesday.
The minor will undergo medical check-up and psychiatric therapy following his release, Dureza said.
While being examined earlier, the boy asked for a toy helicopter because it reminded him of the military helicopters that occasionally hovered while he was held captive, the peace adviser said.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding 27 hostages, including 6 Vietnamese, officials said.
Duterte cited the need for more military equipment as operations against terrorist groups continue under his administration.
"I would like to assure everybody that for as long as there is violence being perpetrated, the Republic of the Philippines will continue with its military operations," he said.
Aside from tactical military offensives, the president said federalism will also help in combating terrorist activity in southern parts of the country.