Kidnapped MSU-IIT Students Set Free

Berzon Paesta after his release in front of the Iligan City NBI office. (Photo from MSU-IIT Facebook Account)

The two MSU-IIT students who were kidnapped together with four others last June 4 are now with their loved ones after they were released by their captors somewhere between the municipalities of Poona Piagapo and Munai in Lanao del Norte, Thursday, June 16.

Atty. Adul Jamal Dimaporo head agent-in-charge of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Iligan District Office, told the Press that with the combined forces of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army and with the help from Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Abdullah Macapaar, alyas Commander Bravo, they found the two remaining students, at the boundary of Poona Piagapo and Munai Lanao del Norte.

It may be recalled that the four other victims were released two days after the kidnapping last week.

Dimaporo said they had sought for the help of MILF leader Commander Bravo since the area where the two were kept happened to be within the periphery of an MILF-controlled territory.

It was also learned that IIT’s Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM) worked with the non-government organization, Non-Violent Peace Force to inform the MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) about the kidnapping incident.

“It is the effort na ginawa natin upang ma-pressure ‘yung grupo until such time na na-locate sila ni Commander Bravo, and there was no ransom given to the abductors as Commander Bravo negotiated for their release,” Dimaporo said.

Set free were Cid Rick Jamias (5th Year BS Electronics) and Berzon Paesta (4th year AB History) and a graduating student.

During a Press Conference at the Iligan City NBI office Paeste told Media that they were treated well by the kidnappers “Magagabii i-transfer mi sa lain nga campo ug lain na pud ang magbantay namo (during nightfall we were both transferred to another camp and another set of guards would watch over us).

Newsmen observed that the victims were unhurt but they looked haggard.

“We overhead from the kidnappers that they were planning to demand 2 M from my parents and 5 M from Cid Rick,” Paeste added.

On the night of June 15 Paeste and Cid Rick were turned-over by their kidnappers to Commander Bravo’s men who immediately brought them to Munai Mayor Casan Maquiling.

The mayor then turned-over the students to the Iligan NBI at the Munai Municipal Hall at around 6:30 a.m. June 16, 2016.

From there, the two students were immediately brought to the bureau headquarters of the NBI in Iligan where their parents and IIT officials led by Chancellor Sukarno D.Tanggol, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Dr. David N. Almarez, MSU-IIT Security Chief Eduarditto Maruhom, and Dr. Torres were waiting.

Tanggol thanked all involved in the joint concerted effort to help, particularly the NBI, led by Atty. Abdul Jamal Dimaporo, the Philippine National Police and its Anti-Kidnapping Group, and the military. He also thanked the NGOs and the MILF for helping.

In a demonstration of the wisdom of putting in place the ceasefire mechanism of the GPH-MILF Peace Process, the two kidnapped MSU-IIT students were reunited with their families.

“We can see here the ceasefire mechanism at work,” Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM) Head Dr. Anthony Mark Torres said.

The students will undergo a stress debriefing and medical check-up will follow before the victims will be handed over to their respective parents. – The New Ranao Star

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