Kidnappers release Zambo businesswoman

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 Apr) – Kidnappers freed early today the 37-year-old businesswoman kidnapped over a month ago in a west coast barangay in this city, police said.

Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director, said the victim, Olivia Barredo, was freed in the municipality of Roseller T. Lim in the nearby province of Zamboanga Sibugay.

De Ocampo said that Barredo was fetched by a relative from the municipality, then brought to this city and now resting at a relative’s residence in Barangay Manicahan.

Barredo said over RMN-Zamboanga that she was freed by her captors around 6 a.m. Wednesday in the coastal area of R.T. Lim municipality.

She said that they travelled aboard a motorized banca for around eight hours Tuesday night before they reached R.T. Lim. From there, Barredo said she was told by her captors to board a “habal-habal,” a motorcycle for hire, towards the highway.

Barredo said she borrowed a cellular phone from a store near where she disembarked from the habal-habal and immediately called her husband, Kenneth.

“After my call, I was surprised to see my cousin approaching me,” she said.

Barredo said her ordeal during of 1 month and 16 days was a “difficult one,” citing that food and water were scarce.

She could not say where she was brought and held captive for more than a month and a half.

Late last month, the kidnappers sent a memory card containing the video of Barredo to the office of Basilan Vice Gov. Alrasheed Sakkalahul, who heads the province’s Crisis Management Committee (CMC).

Sakkalahul said the sending of the memory card to his office through a commercial courier is a tactic of the kidnappers to mislead the authorities concerning the whereabouts of Barredo.

Barredo did not mention whether or not they paid ransom to the kidnappers.

The local CMC earlier revealed that there was ransom demand but did not give the exact amount except in saying that “the family cannot afford it.”

Barredo was kidnapped last March 3 in front of her residence in Barangay Labuan, 36 kilometers west of this city.

They just came from the commercial center of Labuan where the Barredo family runs a pharmacy, hardware and grocery businesses.

Barredo had just alighted from the family-owned vehicle driven by her husband when unidentified gunmen seized her.

The kidnappers dragged her towards the coast of Barangay Labuan and was forced to board a motorized banca that sped towards the direction of Zamboanga del Norte. (MindaNews)