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Kidnapped trader freed in Mindanao

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Philippine kidnappers have freed Tuesday a Filipino-Chinese grocery store owner barely 10 days after they seized her in Maguindanao’s North Upi town.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels who are currently negotiating peace with Manila recovered the victim, Angelina Chew Mantigue, on a remote village in Kabuntalan town after being informed of her release. The rebels handed over the woman to the military.

“Our forces recovered the woman after being told of her release and handed her over to the authorities,” Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the MILF, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the woman was recovered before sunrise.

The kidnappers initially demanded P20 million for the safe release of the woman, but it was unknown whether her family paid ransoms or not. Gunmen seized Mantigue from her store on May 14.

Kabalu has blamed the kidnapping to a breakaway group led by Ameril Umbra Kato, saying, they have in custody three people involved in the crime and are being investigated by a rebel court. It was unknown when the three were captured or arrested. “They are still being investigated by the MILF,” he said.

But the military insisted the woman was rescued in Kabuntalan’s Datu Dadtumeg village.

“The successful release was a product of complimentary operations of Joint Task Force Kutawato headed by Police Director Felicisimo Khu through the 6th Infantry Division forces under Brigadier General Rey Ardo and the MILF forces utilizing the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities cease-fire mechanisms,” a statement from the 6th Infantry Division said.

“The release of Ms Mantigue through the joint efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-MILF shows that the ceasefire mechanism is working. Further, it enhanced the trust and confidence between the two groups. We are confident that, with the ceasefire mechanisms in place. With the JCCCH, similar incidents shall be successfully addressed,” it added.

The military also released a photograph showing Mantigue and her family during a news conference attended by senior police and army officials in Maguindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)




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