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Marites Flor’s ordeal is over

THE ordeal of Filipina hostage Marites Flor is over. Nine months after she was taken from a resort on Samal island in the Davao Gulf with Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad in September, 2015, she was released last Friday through the efforts of President-elect Duterte, Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan, and Secretary Jesus Dureza, incoming presidential adviser on the peace process.

During the nine months that Flor and her three foreign companions from Samal island were held captive, they were moved constantly by night in the jungles of Sulu to avoid pursuing government troopers. Hall, her fiancé, was beheaded in April after his family and the Canadian government failed to raise the ransom demanded by the Abu Sayyaf.

Ridsdel was beheaded two weeks ago.

Flor’s family in Bukidnon appealed to Duterte for help. Dureza said the elder Tan was able to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf. Early Friday morning, Flor said she was awakened by her captors, who removed the cuffs on her feet, then escorted her to barangay Asturias in Jolo, Sulu, where they left her outside the house of Sakur Tan at 4:30 a.m.

We are specially elated by the release of Flor, a Filipina woman from Bukidnon, who could not possibly be expected to pay the P300-million ransom demanded by the Abu Sayyaf for each of their four hostages. She was able to endure those nine months of captivity in the jungle, under the constant threat of death, while military forces pursued them.

Dureza said no ransom was paid for her release although an Abu Sayyaf group was reportedly given P20 million.

So now, it’s two down – beheaded – and one released. That leaves Norwegian Khartan Sekkingstad, the last of the four kidnapped from Samal. President Duterte is yet to be sworn into office tomorrow but he and his men have already succeeded in saving Marites Flor. We must hope that their efforts to save the fourth kidnap victim will also succeed, or his administration will be associated with the tragic incident of a beheading of a kidnap victim.