ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/18 August)–Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits have demanded P15 million ransom in exchange for the release of a government mechanic they seized last Saturday in Sulu.
The bandits abducted chief mechanic Ronald Pelegrin and killed his assistant, Dante Avilla, after they stormed the Sulu provincial motorpool at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the municipality of Patikul.
Pelegrin, 38, and Avilla, 29, are cousins and residents of Barangays Salaan and Pasobolong this city, respectively.
Avilla’s father, Angelberto, disclosed Monday that the ransom demand was relayed to Pelegrin’s wife, Emily, through a cellular phone call on Sunday.
Avilla’s younger brother, Jemel, 23, and Pelegrin’s mother, Rizalina, corroborated the statement of Angelberto. Rizalina is the elder sister of Angelberto.
“He (Ronald) told us that he is being treated well and was already given a dress (t-shirt). Pero ganon pa rin, nasa panganib ang buhay niya (Still, his life is in danger,” Angelberto said.
Rizalina asked the government authorities to exert efforts to secure the safe release of her son, noting they don’t have money to pay ransom.
Jemel asked the government to pursue the suspects so that justice could be given to their family for the death of his elder brother.
Dante Avilla’s youngest daughter wipes his casket on Monday, 18 August 2014, in Barangay Pasalobong, Zamboanga City. Photo by MindaNews
Jemel, like his elder brother, also works as an assistant mechanic at the Sulu provincial motorpool, which is under the Provincial Engineer’s Office. They are both casual employees hired for in the last three and six years, respectively.
He said his cousin, Pelegrin, has been employed at the provincial motorpool for the past 15 years already.
Jemel recalled that there was no opportunity for Pelegrin and his older brother, including their wives, to escape since the Abu Sayyaf bandits have surrounded the victims’ sleeping quarters after they barged into the provincial motorpool compound.
Jemel said it was fortunate the Abu Sayyaf bandits were not able to detect that the wives of Avilla and Pelegrin were inside the sleeping quarters.
Jemel said Avilla hid his wife, Liezle, under the bed while Emily, Pelegrin’s wife, hid at the back of the sleeping quarter’s door.
Jemel is housed in a separate sleeping quarter located less than a hundred meters away from that of the victims’ quarters.
Jemel said the bandits shot his elder brother’s foot when the latter refused to go with the group and was killed later due to continued defiance.
“May tali ang mga kamay niya. Pero putol na noong nakita ko ang bangkay niya (His hands were tied. But they were severed when I saw his cadaver),” he said.
Jemel said he hid himself for safety since there was nothing he can do as the suspects, numbering to around 50, were fully armed.
Avilla, whose remains arrived late Sunday in this city, lies in state at his father’s residence in Barangay Pasobolong. (MindaNews)