By DAN TORIBIO
Police and military forces have been dispatched Friday to a known rebel lair in Zamboanga Peninsula where suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen were reported to have taken a farm caretaker after he was abducted Thursday night in Labason,Zamboanga del Norte.
Police sources said a combined team of police and army troopers was sent to the so-called “triple S-B” (Siocon, Sirawai, Sibuco and Baliguian) mountain range to track down the abductors of 28-year-old Dennis Cabadonga who was seized at gunpoint at his employer’s farm located at a coastal village in Labason.
The triple S-B complex is a hinterland area straddling the four towns of Siocon, Sirawai and Sibuco and accessible by sea through the Sibuco bay. It is where some hostages were kept in past kidnappings.
Cabadonga was seized by gunmen who arrived by motorboat in the village of Maluntuban around 6:30 p.m. They dragged him to the boat that sailed toward the direction of the so-called triple S-B complex, witnesses told the police
Dennis’ employer was identified as Depane Cabadonga Rodriguez .
On May 4, gunmen clad in military and police uniforms seized a barangay chairman and two coast guards at Aliguay Island, off the coast of Dapitan city, Zamboanga del Norte.
Police said the armed men had introduced themselves as police and military personnel and asked about the presence of some tourists before kidnapping Buligao and officers Rodlyn Pagaling and Gringo Villaruz – who were not carrying their service firearms at the time.
The abduction is the first in Dapitan, home to two high-end resorts frequented by foreign and domestic tourists.
According to local media, the abductors are believed to be members of an al-Qaeda-linked group based in Sulu province – a known threshold of the Abu Sayyaf.
Last month, kidnap-for-ransom gunmen seized a town mayor in neighboring Zamboanga Sibugay province.
Gemma Adana of Naga town is believed to have been turned over from her original kidnappers to the Abu Sayyaf, with a P100 million ($22.4 million) ransom demanded in exchange for her safe release.
Kidnap-for-ransom gangs frequently operate in Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. The gangs are known to hand over their captives to Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that, if paid, is shared with the group.
The kidnappers use isolated sea-lanes and coastal areas to grab their victims, who are then held captive in isolated Muslim villages in the peninsula.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.