ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/19 December) – Gunmen suspected to be members of a kidnap-for-ransom-group abducted Wednesday a public school teacher off this city, officials said.
Senior Insp. Joel Tuttuh, Police Station 1 commander, disclosed the incident took place near Limaong Island, 83 kilometers east of this city shortly past 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Limaong is one of the eight island barangays of this city where the Department of Education (DepEd) maintains a primary school.
Tuttuh identified the victim as Cathy May Casipong, 23, a teacher of Sibugtuc Primary School.
Investigation showed that Casipong was traveling from Limaong Island together with five others on a motorized banca when the suspects aboard three motorized bancas appeared and rammed the watercraft they were riding, Tuttuh said.
All except Casipong were thrown into the sea due to the impact, he said.
The victim’s companions include her three co-teachers, including the teacher-in-charge, the motorized banca operator and the husband of the teacher-in-charge.
Tuttuh said the suspects grabbed Casipong and transferred her to one of the three motorized bancas that sped towards the 11 islands east of this city.
He disclosed that policemen backed by soldiers are tracking down the whereabouts of the victim.
Casipong is a resident of Calle Posporo, Barangay Vitali, which is a 30-minute ride away from Limaong Island.
Her co-teachers are also residents of Barangay Vitali, the reason why they commute by motorized banca daily from and to their place of work.
Superintendent Pedro Melchor Natividad, City Division of Schools officer-in-charge, said they were saddened and that they condemned the incident.
Natividad said that it pains them that teachers are victimized by lawless elements despite their sacrifices to bring education to children in far-flung areas.
Natividad disclosed that Casipong is a newly-hired teacher employed six months ago.
The incident was the second to happen in this city involving teachers.
The first was in January 23, 2009 wherein gunmen suspected to be Abu Sayyaf bandits seized three teachers east of this city.
Janette Delos Reyes, Quizon Freires and Rafael Mayonado were seized while they were traveling aboard a motorized banca to this city from Sacol Island, where they teach.
They were freed on May 26, 2009 in Basilan province. (MindaNews)