Kidnapped Fil-Am is still within Sirawai, says WestMinCom chief

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 19 September) –  Filipino-American kidnap victim Rex Triplet is still being held by his abductors within the victinity of Sirawai in Zamboanga dlel Norte, the town where he was abducted, Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said.

The Sirawai Municipal Police earlier reported  that the 64-year old Fil-Am, a resident of Piacan in the coastal town of Sirawai, was abducted in Barangay Tapanayam at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16.

Filipino-American Rex Triplet, 64. Kidnapped in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte. Photo courtesy of Sirawai Municipal Police Office

The report said Triplet and his wife Celsa Maani, 23, were on their way home aboard a black Honda XRM when four men wearing camouflage uniforms stopped them.

According to Sirawai Police, the abductors, armed with three short firearms, forcibly took Triplet while his wife managed to escape and sought the help of  barangay officials.

The perpetrators fled to the hinterlands of Tapanayan, the report said.

Vinluan said the military launched a rescue and manhunt operation, as troops of the 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division, together with other security forces.

“Naval forces are continuously conducting seaborne patrol as well as checkpoint along strategic areas were established to block and capture the perpetrators,” Vinluan said.

“Coordination with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and MNLF(Moro National Liberation Front)  leadership was also realized in order for them to support and provide vital information on the exact location of the group and the victim for future rescue operation,” WestMinCom said in a statement.

Police and the military have yet to determine the motive behind the kidnapping as Triplet is not known to be a wealthy person. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)