Kidnapped public school teacher freed

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/24 December) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf members freed Monday morning in Jolo, Sulu a public school teacher who was kidnapped in a west coast village here more than a month ago.

Flordeliza Ongchua, 48, was freed along Marina Street in downtown Jolo, Sulu, according to Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles, regional police chief.

Ongchua, head teacher at Labuan Elementary School, was seized by a group of gunmen who barged into her residence in the evening of November 13 in Barangay Labuan.

Police said the main target of the gunmen was actually the cousing of her husband, Ronald Maravilla, the barangay chair of Labuan.

But Maravilla, whose residence is adjacent to Ongchua’s, was still on his way back to Labuan when the gunmen swooped down on their neighborhood.

Estilles said Ongchua’s captors are reportedly the followers of the slain Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf leader Mujiv Susukan.

Ongchua arrived here at around 3:45 p.m. aboard an Air Force helicopter.

She was immediately reunited with her family.

Mayor Celso Lobregat, who chairs the Crisis Management Committee, presented Ongchua to the members of the media. No statement was issued by the newly-freed teacher upon the request of her family.

Lobregat said Ongchua’s family confided to him that negotiations had taken place prior to the teacher’s release but added he was not privy to it.

Onchua was clad in denim pants, black long sleeve shirt and red scarf when she disembarked from the helicopter in Camp Basilio Navarro, base of the Western Mindanao Command (MindaNews)