ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/03 Feb) — Two Filipino crew members of Jordanian TV journalist Baker Atyani who were kidnapped along with him seven months ago, were released Saturday night in Jolo, Sulu.
Sulu Police Superintendent Glenn Gabor said he received information on the release from Nina, wife of kidnap victim Ramil Vela, at 9:45 p.m. on February 2.
Gabor said Vela and Rolando “Buboy” Letrero, another victim, were released by their captors and were checked-in at Room 5 of the ANR Hotel in Jolo, the capital town.
The police immediately went to the hotel and escorted the two to the Integrated Provincial Hospital for medical examination. Both were placed them under the protective custody of the Sulu Provincial Police Office.
Atyani, Bureau Chief of Al-Arabiya TV Southeast Asia, his audio technician Letrero and cameraman Vela were reported abducted on June 12 by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Lt. Col. Romulo Qumado, commanding officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 confirmed that the two had been released but without Atyani. Earlier, reports on Atyani’s release circulated following an alleged payment of ransom money but the foreign journalist reportedly declined to be released without his two Filipino crewmen.
Reliable sources in Sulu said ten million pesos had been paid in exchange for the two crew members’ freedom. Police and military authorities deny ransom was paid.
Letrero and Vela will be flown to Zamboanga City then Manila within Sunday. (Frencie Carreon for MindaNews)