By Francis Wakefield
The commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Force (AFP-JTF) Sulu today said it is still validating a report that ransom was allegedly paid to the Abu Sayyaf that led to the release of kidnap victim Engr. Enrico Nee.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said a report cited an information that the Nee family paid a P500,000 ransom to the ASG for the release of the kidnap victim.
“No, not yet. Until now we have not validated that [report]. Even the policewomen, some said P2.5 million was allegedly paid (for their release) but that has yet to be confirmed,” Sobejana said.
“Unless we have concrete evidence, we cannot make such a confirmation,” he added.
Sobejana said he even talked to the victim, his wife and to other sources but nothing has yet been established.
He maintains that relentless pursuit operations forced Nee’s captors to free him. He said three Army brigades are currently pursuing the enemy.
“Three brigades are currently in Patikul, Sulu. Even if you interview the two female PNP personnel they (Abu Sayyaf) are having a hard time bringing their kidnap victims. Their hostages delay their movement,” Sobejana said.
“Enrico Nee reportedly has a heart ailment, they don’t want him to die in their custody,” he added.
Sobejana said an Abu Sayyaf subgroup released Nee somewhere in Barangay Latih, Patikul, Sulu at about 8 a.m. yesterday.
It was learned that Nee, an employee of the Sulu First Engineering District of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was turned over to Commander Tahil Sali of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Nee’s presence reportedly caught the attention of residents in Barangay Latih and reported it to the DPWH district engineer who in turn, informed the military about the release of the victim.
During his debriefing, Nee reportedly recalled three armed clashes between the military and the terrorists during his captivity.
He also said he was able to delay the movements of the terrorists because of his health condition and surmised that probably the ASG don’t want him to die due to sickness under their custody.
The victim was kidnapped about 7:45 a.m. on February 14, 2018, as he was leaving his residence located near a police checkpoint at Kasalamatan Village, Barangay Upper San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu.
At present, there are nine hostages remaining in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf–a Dutch, three Indonesians, a Vietnamese and four Filipinos.