MANILAPhilippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde on Wednesday said unidentified abductors are demanding PHP5 million in exchange for the release of two policewomen kidnapped in Patikul, Sulu over the weekend.
As of this time, wala pa talagang maliwanag although may mga negotiators tayo. We asked help from the local chief executives doon at ang hinihingi initially na ransom is PHP5 million, (Nothing is clear but we sought help from local chief executives and we were told the abductors were initially asking for PHP5 million),Albayalde said.
He also confirmed that according to local police, the policewomen who were kidnapped along with two others by at least eleven armed men are still alive.
(T)here is proof of life as of this morning, Albayalde added.
PO2 Benierose Alvarez and PO1 Dinah Gumahad, are both assigned at the PNP Crime Laboratory office based in Calarian town in Zamboanga City when they were forcibly taken by the armed men. The two were with Muslim companions identified as Jakosalem Ahamad Blas and Faizal Ahidji.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said three battalions of troopers are conducting search operations in Patikul.
Earlier, Police Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, said the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has demanded ransom payment in exchange for the release of the two policewomen and their two companions, adding "negotiations ongoing.
But Beltran did not elaborate on ASG's exact demands as the case is now being handled by the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group, together with the victims' families.
Reports said that four were seized by the Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Mujir Yada on Sunday, April 29, in Barangay Liang, Patikul.
Beltran said operations by the Joint Task Force Sulu to rescue the captives are also ongoing, and that the safety of hostages is of paramount concern.
Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, PRO-9 information officer, said in a statement earlier that the two policewomen were on vacation in Sulu.
She said they came from Quezon Beach, one of the famous picnic grounds in Sulu, when the ASG seized them.
Alvarez is assigned with the Engineer Service Division under the Regional Logistics Office of PRO-9. She is from Isabela City, Basilan.
Gumahad is undergoing a 45-day Criminal Investigation Course at Regional Special Training Unit-9. She is assigned in the town of Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur. (With reports from Teofilo Garcia/PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency