The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has released a South Korean ship captain and his Filipino crewman held captive by the bandit group since October last year, officials and the military confirmed yesterday in Davao City.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza flew to Davao City from Sulu yesterday morning to announce to media the release of Park Chul Hong, captain of Korean vessel “M/V Dong Bang Giant,” and his Filipino crew member Glenn Alindajao had been released.
“We were almost hopeless but I am thankful we were able to come home safely with the help of Sir Dureza and the president for assisting us,” Alindajao, 31, from Cebu, said in a news briefing.
FREE AT LAST – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza (second from right) escorts released kidnap victims South Korean Park Chul Hong and Filipino Glenn Alindajao from Cebu upon their arrival in Davao City Saturday noon after they were released by their Abu Sayyaf captors. They were released after almost four months in captivity. (Keith Bacongco | Manila Bulletin)
South Korean captain Park Chung-Hung, 38, did not speak with reporters but like Alindajao, appeared to have grown a beard while in captivity.
It will be recalled that the two sailors were abducted by around 10 gunmen allegedly belonging to the Abu Sayyaf near the coast of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
The two were forcibly taken from heavy load carrier Dong Bang Giant 2 off the southern entry of Sibutu Passage, a 129-kilometer wide channel being used by shippers in transit between the Pacific Ocean and the West Philippine Sea.
Major Filemon Tan, spokesman of the Western Mindanao command (WesMinCom), said the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) played a key role in the release of the two victims.
“Reports say that the MNLF based in Kagay, Indanan, Sulu helped facilitate the release of the kidnap victims,” said Tan.
The captives were turned over to Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, who turned over the captives to Dureza.
Dureza said that plans for the release of the two kidnap victims began as early as December.
P25-M RANSOM PAID?
Addressing a question from media, he said he had no personal knowledge if a ransom was paid for the release of the hostages.
However, intelligence reports revealed that P25 million was paid as ransom for the release Park and Alindajao.
After the ransom payoff, the two were reportedly released by ASG subleader Alden Bagade in Barangay Kagay at around 7 a.m. yesterday.
The two victims were then fetched by the MNLF and were turned over to the former Sulu governor.
Dureza reiterated the government’s no ransom policy, but the Abu Sayyaf does not normally free hostages unless a ransom is paid.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom. (With a report from AFP)