GenSan moves to free 4 kidnapped businessmen

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 April) — The city government has mobilized its personnel to assist efforts for the immediate and safe release of four businessmen from this city who were seized by members of an alleged kidnap gang in Maguindanao province two weeks ago.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said he has commissioned a team that will closely monitor and lead the necessary coordination with law enforcement units that are working on the reported abduction of business partners Engr. Jayson Cababayao, architect Raulito Suyom, Francis Wong Sepulvida and Rho Steven Bochurno in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao last March 29.

The mayor said they have initially linked up with the Police Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM) and its anti-kidnapping group.

“We tasked our assigned personnel to gather more information and help in the investigation of the case,” Rivera said.

As of Monday, he said they are still clueless as to the identities of the kidnappers who had reportedly demanded a P10 million ransom for the victims.

He said the families of the four victims already sought the local government’s assistance regarding the incident and are closely coordinating with them for the developments.

“Our priority right now is to ensure the safe release of the victims,” Rivera said.

The four, who are all residents of this city, were on their way to meet a prospective client in Cotabato City for a construction project when they were abducted.

Cababayao’s family owns the J Trade Concrete Products and Construction Supply here.

Police said the victims were last seen leaving the city on March 29 aboard a Mitsubishi Strada pickup. The vehicle was found abandoned somewhere in Maguindanao several days later.

A group led by an alleged field commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters initially tagged as behind the kidnapping has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.

Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Region 12 police director, earlier confirmed the abduction of the four business partners but refused to give further details noting that another unit is handling the case.

He said the incident happened in the area of responsibility of the PRO-ARMM and is being handled by its anti-kidnapping unit.

The official said he has directed the city police office and the regional police’s intelligence unit to closely coordinate with the PRO-ARMM’s anti-kidnapping group “so we will be able to know the developments of the case.”

Owing to the incident, Camba advised local businessmen to refrain from doing transactions with people who have suspicious identities and in areas that they are not familiar with.

“Make sure that you really know the persons you are dealing with, you well know the area of your meeting place and don’t just give out specific information about your movements. Personal safety should always be a top consideration,” he said. (MindaNews)