By Lilian C. Mellejor
DAVAO CITY (PNA) — President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Friday warned the Abu Sayyaf against continuing its kidnapping activities, saying the day of reckoning is coming.
Duterte made the statement 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 (June 24, 2016).
Duterte said these kidnappings “gave us a very bad image but there will be a time I have to confront Abu Sayyaf.”
Flor was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf along with three foreign nationals from the high-end Holiday Oceanview Marina in the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21, 2015.
She was held captive for nine months.
Dureza and Flor arrived at the DCPO at 2:22 p.m. from Sulu where the victim was freed by the bandit group.
Duterte thanked Dureza and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan for their help in the negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf.
Dureza confirmed that 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, Norway when he was told that their efforts to recover Flor from the Abu SAayyaf had yielded good results and he was tasked to pick her up in Sulu.
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 all we have been waiting for, that she would 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 Abu Sayyaf. He said they were not contacted by the bandit group or by an emissary.
He said he only knew about Marites’ release in the news but their mother was informed by anti-kidnapping authorities in Davao City.
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, saying 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 Abu Sayyaf.
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 Abu Sayyaf under Mujer Yadah and was turned over to Governor Tan early Friday.
Word has it that a P20-million ransom was paid for Flor’s release but Dureza belied this, saying 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 phone patch between him and Duterte during which they mentioned efforts to recover Sekkingstad. (PNA)