Wednesday, 23 March 2011 16:10
Barely 18 hours after he was kidnapped, Rolando de la Cruz, caretaker of the Cawley's Restobar in Lamitan City, Basilan Province has been released by his captors.
De la Cruz was abducted early Monday by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, reportedly under the group of Nur Hassan Jamiri, Ustadz Salim Tado, and alias Pula. He was released late Monday afternoon.
Lt. Col. Randolf Cabangbang, regional spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command, said de la Cruz was recovered at Barangay Sinulatan Tuburan around 5:20 p.m.
"The 32nd Infantry Battalion (IB) under Lt. Col. Russel Pompsa recovered and secured the kidnap victim," Cabangbang said in a text message sent to the WesMinCom defense beat reporters.
The recovery of de la Cruz was made possible through the pursuit/combat operations being applied by the combined efforts of 32nd IB and composite police elements that pressured the kidnappers to release the victim, said Cabangbang.
Following the victim's release, he was turned over to the crisis management committee (CMC) chair Mayor Roderick Furigay at his office in Lamitan City hall and police station for proper disposition.
"The abductors were forced to abandon De la Cruz because they were already surrounded by government troops from the 32nd Infantry Battalion and police forces," said Furigay.
Early reports from WesMinCom on Monday said on or about 1:30 in the morning, Abu Sayyaf gunmen barged into the residence of Cawley, located in Aguinaldo Street, and seized de la Cruz.
It was not known if Cawley, who also owns a rubber plantation, was in his residence when the incident took place, but authorities said the care taker's landlord was the main target of the kidnappers.
Gunmen burned their gateaway multicab vehicle and left at Sitio Lagasan in Barangay Kulay Bato, Lamitan City. They fled on foot towards Sitio Libi in Barangay Bulanting, also Lamitan.
By Hader Glang
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