DAVAO CITY — President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he does not want to fight with anybody but kidnapping must stop, referring to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
His statement was issued after receiving kidnap victim Marites Flor from incoming Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza during the turnover of command at the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) on Friday afternoon.
Duterte said these kidnappings “gave us a very bad image but there will be a time I have to confront Abu Sayyaf”.
Dureza turned over to Duterte the Filipino woman abducted by the ASG along with three other foreign nationals from the high-end marina resort in the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21, 2015.
Dureza and Flor arrived at DCPO at 2:22 p.m from Sulu where the victim was freed by the ASG. Flor was held by the ASG for nine months.
Duterte thanked Dureza and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan for their help in the negotiations with the ASG.
Dureza confirmed Flor’s release was made through the efforts of Duterte and it came with no precondition.
According to Dureza, he had just come from Oslo when he was told that their efforts to recover Marites from the ASG yielded good results and he was tasked to pick her up from Sulu.
With this development, Ronel Flor, the brother of Marites, said they were happy she was released.
“Mao ra man gyud na among gihulat nga ma release siya (That is the only thing we have been waiting, that she will be released),” Ronel said in a phone interview.
Ronel, who is in Valencia, Bukidnon, said the family never had the chance to speak to Marites even when she was in the hands of the ASG. He said they were neither contacted by ASG nor an emissary.
He said he only knew about Marites’ release in the news but her mother was informed by the anti-kidnapping authorities in Davao City.
On the other hand, Marites’ mother Flordeliza said the family was happy that she is now safe.
Flordeliza was grateful that her daughter had been released and is now coming home. She also said she was sorry about Canadian Robert Hall, her daughter’s partner who was beheaded last June 13. Another Canadian national, John Ridsdel, was beheaded last April.
Flordeliza thanked Duterte, adding that the family was sad he was not the president yet before Hall was killed.
Meanwhile, Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad still remains in the hands of the ASG.
Dureza said they did not have any information yet on the fate of Sekkingstad but there are also efforts to save him.
“No word for him yet. We only got Flor,” Dureza said.
Flor was released on Thursday night by the ASG under Mujer Yadah and was turned over to Gov. Tan early Friday.
Word has it that a Php20-million ransom was paid for Flor’s release.
But Dureza said there was no ransom paid, adding that some of their long-time friends helped secure her release.
He said they are exerting the same efforts for Sekkingstad’s release.
Dureza recalled that when they were in Oslo, he had an audience with Foreign Minister Borge Brende of Norway and established a phonepatch between him and Duterte during which they mentioned efforts to recover Sekkingstad. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/northboundasia.com