By Francis Wakefield
The intensified operations launched by combined troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Force Sulu (JTF-Sulu), BPATS (Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams) and the Talipao Police led to the immediate recovery of two kidnap victims including the half-sister of Talipao Mayor Nebukadnezar Tulawie in Sulu on Wednesday night.
The military said in a report that the two kidnap victims were rescued at about 6 p.m.Wednesday.
It was learned that troops promptly responded after receiving reports that at about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday, the half-sister of Talipao Mayor Nebukadnezar Tulawie, Edelyn Tulawie, 27, and her mother, Addang Tulawie, 57; were forcibly taken by 20 fully armed men, later identified as Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members under Hatib Hajan Sawajaan, at their residence in Barangay Kandaga-Boundary Kuhaw, Talipao, Sulu.
Their residence is about 5 km away from the town center of Talipao.
At around 6 p.m. of the same day, combined elements of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion led by Captain Ambrocio, Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams, and the Philippine National Police (PNP), responded to the report that the perpetrators together with their hostages were sighted along the boundary of Barangay Sinumaan and Barangay Kagay, Talipao.
While scouring the area, the operating troops were able to rescue the two hostages in the forested area and were immediately brought to the residence of former Talipao Mayor Tambrin Tulawie.
The troops later escorted the victims to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo, Sulu for medical check-up and trauma debriefing.
“We recognize the efforts of the Local Government of Talipao headed by Mayor Tulawie and all members of the community who did their best to help in the rescue of Edelyn and Addang Tulawie. It is the peoples’ participation and their resolve against the kidnappers that forced the bandits to abandon the victims in the area where they kept them for several hours,” said Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, the Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
“This also signals that the people will no longer tolerate the banditry perpetrated by the ASG in their community,” he added.
AFP Western Mindanao Command Chief Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega said that he ordered the intensification of intelligence monitoring to locate the perpetrators for them to face the full force of the law.
“We will run after them! We are confident that with the Local Chief Executives’ and the peoples’ support in the municipalities of Sulu, we will finally rid the province of the ASG that has been spreading turmoil in the area,” Dela Vega said.
As of press time, pursuit operation is being conducted to neutralize the fleeing bandits.
To date, there are a total of 11 hostages who are still in the hands of their abductors in Sulu.