DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /14 Jan) — Korean ship captain Chul Hong Park and Filipino ship officer Glenn Alindahaw had practically lost hope they would come out of Sulu alive until Saturday morning, January 2017, when an unidentified group turned them over to Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza, ending 86 days in captivity.
Park, captain of a South Korean vessel, and his second officer, Alindahaw, were abducted last October 20 by unidentified armed men headed by a certain “Abraham” while on board a Dong Bang Giant 2 within the international waters off Tawi-Tawi.
But Dureza, who flew in from Sulu with the freed hostages, told a press conference Saturday noon at the Mindanao Development Authority office at the old airport terminal that the two were passed on to another group when the leader died but he has no information how “Abraham” died or whether or not he died from an armed encounter with government troops.
He said Park and Alindahaw were abused physically by “Abraham’s” group while the second group abused them mentally. He said Alindahaw narrated to him how they walked endlessly from one place to another on empty stomach for days.
When the bandits were on the move, the captives would be lucky enough if they could be sheltered comfortably inside a house. On most days, they would sleep under the shade of the trees in the middle of the forest, Dureza said.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa panginoon, na nakauwi kami. (I thank God we are going home). We’re almost hopeless na,” said Alindahaw who hails from Cebu.
Dureza said that they could not clearly point to any group behind the abduction of the two victims since there are several other groups in Sulu engaged in kidnapping, aside from the Abu Sayyaf.
“Hindi ko ma-determine but there are many groups there who are engaged in kidnapping in the area. Let the military do the determination. Kasi they call everybody Abu Sayyaf there. I cannot make a personal accurate description of the handlers. Let the competent authorities determine,” Dureza said.
He said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari helped in the release of the kidnap victims because it was his group who received the two before they were taken over to former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan Saturday morning.
But Dureza said he is wary how the community members connive with several kidnap groups to eke out a living.
“We have to address the enabling environment because the fact that people come around, converge, and support them, there is already a culture where they benefit from it individually,” he said.
He added that the kidnapping in Sulu province should be addressed militarily but at the same time “address the enabling environment through massive social intervention.”
Dureza said this environment can be addressed when people will get some semblance of support from the government.
“Baka akala nila na nakakalimutan na sila” (They might think they have been forgotten), he said.
“Wala nang mga matatanda (The elders are gone). It is worrisome because if the young are involved in this we have to deal with that,” Dureza said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)