MANILA (UPDATE)- Three Indonesian nationals kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group last year were rescued while two of their alleged captors was found in waters off Pasigan Island, South Ubian in Tawi-Tawi on Thursday evening, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said Friday.
Those rescued were on board a boat with 5 of their captors when the vessel encountered strong waves en route to Tawi-Tawi, the military said. Three suspects are still missing while a fourth Indonesian captive is still unaccounted for.
“Sa tuloy-tuloy na operation sa Sulu, na-pressure sila na tumawid pa-Tawi-Tawi. However, while proceeding to Tawi-Tawi, nahampas sila ng malaking alon kaya lumubog sila. Noong papunta na sila sa isang isla sa Tawi-Tawi nakita sila ng mga tao at inireport sa kapulisan natin at doon na-rescue sila,” Wesmincom Commander, Lt. Col. Corleto Vinluan said.
(Due to our continued operations in Sulu, they were pressured to cross to Tawi-Tawi. However, while proceeding to Tawi-Tawi, their boat was hit by big waves and sank. While on their way to an island in Tawi-Tawi, residents who spotted them reported them to police and that’s how they were rescued.)
Police coordinated with the military's Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 on the four people they rescued ashore. Of those rescued, three were identified as Indonesian kidnap victims Riswanto Bin Hayono, Arical Kastamiran, and Arsyad Bin Dahalan.
The Filipino identified as Sahud Salisim, alias Ben Wagas, an alleged Abu Sayyaf sub-leader.
“Dadalin namin sila from Tawi-Tawi to Zamboanga City para ipagamot, maipa-check-up natin as one of our policies na once na may makuha tayong kidnap victim ipatingin muna sa medical,” said Vinluan in an interview on TeleRadyo on Friday.
(From Tawi-Tawi, we will bring them to Zamboanga City for medical check-up as part of our policy on rescued kidnap victims.)
Another alleged Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, identified as Injimar "Bensal Jakare" Mangkabong of Indanan, Sulu, was found in the vicinity of Silandat Island in South Ubian before being arrested.
Joint Task Force Sulu Commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales said Salisim, alias Ben Wagas, is an Abu Sayyaf member, while they are still trying to verify Jakare’s involvement with the group. He also said that Mangkabong, a Sulu native, has been previously operating under notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron.
The victims said there were 5 of them, all workers under a Malaysian fishing firm who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in waters off Tambisan, Malaysia on Jan. 17, 2020. One of them was killed while trying to escape during an encounter in Patikul, Sulu last Sept. 29.
Another kidnap victim, a minor named Khairul, is still missing.
The rescued victims are undergoing custodial debriefing facilitated by the MBLT-6 and the Tandubas Police.
“Kakausapin muna namin sila at eventually 'pag ma-process na ng Bureau of Immigration natin, itu-turn over na sa embassy nila,” Vinluan added.
(We will talk to them first and once they have been processed by the Bureau of Immigration, they will be turned over to their embassy.)