DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 January) – The nephew of Aleosan, North Cotabato Mayor Loreto Cabaya was freed by his kidnappers after exactly two months in captivity.
The mayor said Romy Cabaya, his 23-year old nephew, was released in Barangay Makir in Datu Odin Sinsuat at dawn of Thursday, January 19.
Saying no ransom was paid, Cabaya credited the release to the persistent efforts of the victim’s family and the local crisis management committee.
The committee was formed right after Romy was abducted while on his way home to Aleosan from the nearby town of Midsayap on November 19 last year.
But Cabaya said it was Romy’s elder sister identified only as Milay and working in Cotabato City who was able to contact the abductors through her friends in Barangay Tamontaka (Cotabato City).
“His sister happened to have some friends in Tamontaka. And one of her friends happened to be one of the classmates of the abductors. And that linked them together,” he explained, adding that Milay then negotiated for her brother’s release.
Cabaya said no ransom was paid because his nephew belongs to a poor family. “He is a working student in our house. He stays with us as a house help so he can go to school.”
He said that after the release Romy underwent a physical and psychosocial check-up before rejoining his family in Barangay Palacat.
The military had earlier tagged the Bangsamoro Independence Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as behind the abduction.
But the mayor said they have not identified the suspects’ affiliation, adding he does not even believe that some MILF members were involved too.
“Personally, I don’t believe that the MILF members were behind the kidnapping. They could be just armed individuals,” Cabaya said.
BIFF is led by Ameril Umra Kato, who left the MILF over disagreements on the conduct of the on-and-off peace process with the government. He was rumored to have died from an illness last year, but his group denied the reports. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)