8-year old kidnap victim freed

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/28 February) — An eight-year old boy who was kidnapped in Zamboanga Sibugay and held hostage in Sulu for almost seven months was reunited with his family on Tuesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said.

In a statement Tuesday, Dureza said they brought Rexon Romoc to Manila and turned him over to his parents Elmer and Nora Romoc after a medical checkup done by Dr. Rose Liquete, chief of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.

President Rodrigo Duterte walks along with eight year-old Rexon Romoc during a meeting at the Malacañan Palace on February 28, 2017. Rexon Romoc was abducted by members of the Abu Sayyaf on August 5, 2016 and released on February 27, 2017. KING RODRIGUEZ/Presidential Photo

“President Duterte, who was on top of our recovery efforts, witnessed the reunion in Malacanang,” Dureza said.

“It has been a long ordeal. Rexon was kidnapped by armed men together with his parents on August 5, 2016. They were brought to Sulu by their kidnappers,” he said.

The official said Nora was released on August 22 after paying some small amount to their captors.

She then sold everything they owned including their “sari sari” store and borrowed money from friends and relatives to pay for the release of Elmer and Rexon, he added.

Dureza said the captors released Rexon’s father on November 15, but kept the boy hostage until his recovery on Monday.

He said the ordeal forced Rexon’s family to leave Sibugay and relocate outside Manila with relatives.

He said the boy’s first question upon arriving from Sulu was: “Asa si Mama ug Papa ( Where is Mama and Papa)?”

To make sure he was the real Rexon, Dureza said he asked who his parents are.
“His quick, terse reply: ‘Elmer ug Nora!’ Bingo! I hugged him tight. ( I also have a grandson his age.),” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte looks on as Rexon Romoc, the eight year-old boy kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay last August 5, 2016 and released in Jolo, Sulu on Monday, gives a hand salute while he was presented to the media following the reunion with his family at Malacañan Palace on February 28, 2017. Also in photo is Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza. KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo

He said Rexon will undergo psychiatric treatment for the trauma he may have acquired after seven months in captivity and witnessing firefights between his captors and government forces.

“When NKTI chief Doc Rose gifted him with a toy car with ‘PEACE LOVE’ markings while being medically examined, he told me he also wanted to have a helicopter for a toy,” Dureza said.

When he asked why, Rexon told him he saw military helicopters occasionally hovering over them while his captors tagged him along while seeking cover.

Dureza noted that Rexon, although from a Cebuano-speaking family, now uses more Tausug words.

He said his Tausug emissary, Edmund Gumbahali, helped him with the translation. (MindaNews)