Thursday, December 27, 2012

Labuan kidnap teacher freed in Sulu

From the Zamboanga Today (Dec 27): Labuan kidnap teacher freed in Sulu

Family pays P4M ransom

Teacher Flordeliza Ongchua Ramones of Barangay Labuan, west coast of Zamboanga City, was freed Monday morning after being held captive for 40 days, police said. "Ramones, 48, was safely released by his armed abductors at the Market Site, Marina Street, Jolo, Sulu Province the day before Christmas," the police report said. Police Regional Office 9 (PRO9) director Chief Supt. Atty. Napoleon Estilles confirmed her release in an interview by local reporters.

A joint forces of the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), Philippines Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC) with the military counterparts got hold of the teacher at about 8:30 in the morning last Monday. "Ongchua was brought to the Special Action Force (SAF) headquarters in Sulu for proper custody and presently under trauma," Estilles said, adding that Ongchua was airlifted to Zamboanga City and was reunited to her family before Christmas Day.

The PRO9 chief also said the government remains firm in the no ransom policy but some sources confirmed the alleged payment of ransom for the safe release of the victim. An information reaching Zamboanga Today showed that the victim was freed by her abductors along the highway of Indanan, Sulu and transported later to Jolo by an unidentified emissary. It also revealed that the Ongchua family initially paid P2,000,000 million on the first week of December then followed by another P2,000,000 prior to her release on Monday. Last November 13, 2012, at about 7:00 p.m., Ongchua was inside her house when abducted by 13 armed men and dragged her to a waiting pumpboat then sped off towards an unknown direction. Police Officer 3 Romeo Quillo, assigned with the police assistance center, was disarmed of his 9mm handgun and the compound security guard Benjamin Titing was also snatched of his M16 Armalite Rifle by the kidnappers.

It will be recalled eight suspected fully-armed kidnappers who were wearing camouflage and PNP uniforms went to the house of Labuan barangay chair Rolando Maravilla while five other suspected kidnappers stayed at the two pumpboats docked along the shoreline of baranbay Labuan. The police report disclosed the barangay chieftain was out of his residence at the time of the incident which prompted the suspects to look for an alternative victim. The police continued that the suspects then went to the adjacent house owned by the victim and forcibly opened the door of her residence and dragged her towards the waiting seacrafts that sped towards the north possibly to Zamboanga del Norte. According to police report, the armed suspects disarmed Ongchua’s security guard Benjamin Titing of his M16 rifle including a policeman identified as SPO4 Romeo Quillo before the incident took place.

Due to the incident, all the policemen assigned at the Labuan Police Station were ordered recalled by Police Regional Office 9 commander Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles. The kidnapping was the second to have occurred in Labuan. In March 2011 Olivia Barredo of the same barangay had also been kidnapped by armed men and was freed after her family also paid some amount to the kidnappers. Residents in the community have clamored the authorities to field Navy ships in the Labuan waters to prevent a repeat of the incident.

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