14 teachers, students held hostage in Agusan Sur

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews/02 April) – Armed men, including two brothers  of  Datu Ondo Perez who is in jail for  holding hostage 125 students and teachers here in December 2009,  have been holding hostage 14 persons since 4 p.m. Friday, demanding the release of Perez.

Inset Map from WikipediaAmong the hostages were the Agusan del Sur school division supervisor, a school supervisor for district II, six teachers and two elementary students.

Initial reports said the armed group led by Navarro Alejandro Brital, 18, abducted the victims in Purok 7, Sitio Balite in Barangay La Purisima at around 4 pm on April 1.

Sources said the victims who had just attended the recognition rites at the Valentina G. Plaza Primary School in Sitio Balite were walking when blocked by gunmen and moved them to mountainous area

Prosperidad mayor Albin Magdamit assured relatives that the hostages are safe.

Magdamit said the armed group took hostages to demand the release of Perez, a former member of the Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), who is now facing kidnapping and multiple murder cases and detained at the Provincial Jail in Patin-ay, Prosperidad.

In 2009, Perez and his armed group attacked the Maitum Elementary School and held schoolchildren hostage in Sitio Maitum, Barangay San Martin.

Perez, one of the suspects in the massacre of the family of Jun Tubay, reportedly held them hostage to prevent his arrest.

In a mobile phone interview, Governor Adolf Edward Plaza said he has activated the provincial crisis management committee to “immediately but peacefully” negotiate to resolve the problem.

Plaza’s office identified the victims as Hipolito Lastimado, school division supervisor; Narciso Oliveros, district II, school supervisor, Joel Sausa, teacher; Manuel Mordeno, teacher-in-charge of Maiton elementary school; Mary Jane Bedrijo, volunteer-teacher; Allan Galdiano, teacher; Filipina Quitoy, teacher-in-charge of VGP Primary School and Diosdidi Cabantak, teacher.

Also held hostages were Pido Dolorito, motorcycle-for-hire driver; Marcel Lagnason, motorcycle-for-hire driver and Quitoy’s husband, Armand and their two children, a 10-year old girl and a 13-year old boy. The name of the other victim has not been made available. Earlier reports said 16 were abducted.

The report also identified  three of 10 armed men as Ondo Perez’ brothers, Allan and Kenken, and Ilag Perez, a relative of Ondo. The suspects were reportedly armed with cal. 45 and M-14 rifle.

The hostage-takers asked for food but said they want Ondo Perez and Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Nicnic Bajade to deliver the food.  (Alden Pantaleon/MindaNews with reports from Alexis Cabardo and Max Tutor/DXSF)