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 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.
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)