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Kidnapped businesswoman rescued in Sulu

A 60-year-old businesswoman abducted in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte Monday afternoon, was rescued yesterday morning by the military from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, identified the rescued kidnap victim as Martina “Tinang” Yee.

Padilla said troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion, 501st Infantry Brigade of Joint Task Force Sulu saved Yee from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a pier in Tanjung, Barangay Kajatian, Indanan Sulu, at about 7 a.m.

Yee, a resident of Sirawai, Zamboanga Del Norte and owner of a gas station, was kidnapped by about six fully armed men in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte, at 3 p.m. Monday.

Reports said that the group fled towards Zamboanga City passing Municipality of Sibucu aboard a triple engine watercraft.

Padilla said the successful rescue operation was a result of continuous collaboration with different units of the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) with the help of civilian populace from Sirawai to Sibuco and Zamboanga City to Sulu.

A strike-and-rescue operation was launched by troops of the 35th IB.

Sensing that they would be outnumbered, the armed men holding Yee hastily fled, leading to the recovery of the victim.

Padilla said several victims have been rescued or released since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the armed forces to intensify rescue efforts.

“The successful rescue is a template of enhanced collaboration of all government agencies concerned with the help of local residents,” Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Commander of JTF Sulu said.

“We hope to see more collaboration from different stakeholders in the coming days to destroy the ASG and rescue the remaining hostages,” Dela Vega said.

Col. Jose Faustino, commander of the 501st Brigade, said “the relentless focused military operation will continue until the we finally deal a crippling blow to the ASG and free the people of Sulu from these terrorists.”

Padilla said Yee has undergone medical check-up at Camp Bautista Station Hospital where she was immediately given food as she has not eaten since Monday evening.

She was later brought to Zamboanga City. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)