Be cautious, PNoy tells police on Agusan hostage crisis

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews/5 April) – President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has reminded the crisis committee and the police to be cautious and not take risks that would put the lives of the 12 remaining hostages in harm’s way.

Mayor Alvin Magdamit, head of the crisis committee, said the President’s concern on the outcome of the hostage incident was relayed by Philippine National Police Chief Raul Bacalzo who arrived in Agusan del Sur last weekend.

“The President is very concerned and wishes there will be a successful outcome,” Magdamit said.

Gunmen believed to be in their teens have taken hostage 15 people, including 10 teachers who had just come from a graduation ceremony in Inayawan Elementary School in Barangay La Purisima in this capital municipality.

They are demanding the release of their leader Jhubert “Ondo” Perez and 12 other members of their clan who were imprisoned for the 2009 kidnapping of 125 teachers and students.

The crisis committee had changed its negotiator and picked Rolando Brital, father of one of the abductors.

Magdamit attributed the release of 12-year-old Marvin Jay Corvera to the efforts made by Brital.

“We will continue talking to the abductors until they will release all the hostages,” Magdamit said, discounting the possibility of an all-out rescue attempt on the gunmen who have hidden the hostages under the falcata trees in Purok 7, Barangay La Purisima.

But Conrado Perez, father of Ondo, told reporters that there would be no peace in their villages unless the feud between them and a certain Tubay family will be resolved.

Perez, 67, said the spate of kidnappings of teachers and students is the result of the long feud between the two families.

“My sons saw how the authorities favor the Tubay family. The members of the Tubay family are not even arrested even if they killed many of our clan,” he said.

Perez said he already lost three of his eight sons because of the feud.

“The feud should be resolved by the old lumad tradition. The two families can then have a tampuda (peace) agreement,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)