Civil society leaders appeal to kidnappers to free Elections Commisioner’s son

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/July 21)– Civil society leaders in Lanao have appealed to the kidnappers of Noraldin Yusoph, son of Elections Commissioner Elias Yusoph, to “immediately release” the victim.

Yusoph, 22 (not 24 as earlier reported), was abducted by still unidentified armed men while praying inside a mosque in Barangay Sabala Amanao, Marawi City.

Juanito Enriquez, managing director of the Civil Society Organization Forum for Peace (CSOFP), a network of non-government workers in Iligan, condemned the kidnapping.

“We appeal to abductors to immediately release of the victim and we ask police as well military officials to intensify manhunt operation to rescue the victim. Authorities must identify these abductors and put them behind bars,” he said.

Unlike in previous abduction here where kidnappers demanded ransom, Chief superintendent Bienvenido Latag, police chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said the abductors allegedly demanded the annulment of votes in the towns of Malabang, Picong Taraka and Masiu, all in Lanao del Sur.

Salic Ibrahim , executive director of Maradeca Inc. and Citizens Care for ARMM for Electoral Reform (Citizens CARE), said Malabang and Picong towns are in the second district while Taraka and Masiu are located in the first distric.

Ibrahim theorized this kidnapping incident has something to do with the vice gubernatorial contest. He did not elaborate.

But Salic explained that “this is always the case in Lanao. Election does not stop upon proclamation of winners. Losers will really find ways until elected officials will be unseated.”

Mariam Barandia, executive director of Kapamagogopa Inc., a volunteer organization, said she is alarmed by the post-election abductions here.

Barandia said she conferred with Amenoddin Cali, executive director of Kalimudan Inc. who said “there are incidents of abductions and killings in Marawi recently that have gone unrecorded.”

The elder Yusoph, former Marawi city prosecutor, was appointed as Comelec commissioner in February 2009 as replacement for Romeo Brawner. His appointment was supported by the Bishops-Ulama Conference.

Brig. Gen. Rey Ardo, commanding officer of 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Marawi, said they had coordinated with local police force” but stressed that “running after abductors is primarily the responsibility of the police.” (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)