COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Aug) – After 11 days in the hands of his abductors, the 19-year-old college student from Midsayap, North Cotabato who was abducted while inside a store at the height of military operations in the province against lawless elements on August 10, was released before dawn today.
According to Jessie Ened, executive secretary of the Provincial Government of North Cotabato, victim Mark Anthony Baya was handed to a negotiating team tapped by Governor Emmylou Mendoza.
Ened, who is part of the team together with board members Dulla Sultan and Mohamad “Kelly” Antao and another local official of Midsayap, immediately brought the victim to the Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Amas, Kidapawan City for medical check up and stress debriefing procedure.
“He was so hungry and requested to eat some,” Ened narrated his first moment interacting with the victim.
He assured there was no ransom paid to the kidnappers because of the province’s stand not to tolerate ransom demands.
Supt. Reynante delos Reyes, Midsayap town police chief, said the victim was released in El Manuel Hotel in Cotabato City where he was fetched by the negotiating team.
But he said they don’t have full identification of the group of abductors yet, except that the head of the kidnap-for-ransom gang is a certain “Kumander Superpower.” Delos Reyes said they are still waiting for additional reports from the Anti-Kidnapping Group.
Baya was about to close their store at Barangay Tumbras in Midsayap when at least five armed masked men disembarked from a gray Mitsubishi vehicle and forcibly dragged him at gun point.
Baya is a son of a retired soldier who is now a village councilor Tumbras.
El Manuel Hotel’s Globe cellphone line kept on ringing when this reporter attempted to get their side on the reported release of the kidnap victim inside their premises.