Military rescues 5 kidnapped fishermen in Tawi-Tawi

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  • The victims were presented to the media Monday.

Zamboanga City (CNN Philippines, November 20) — Five fishermen kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits were rescued by the military, officials said Monday.

The five crew members of the Danvil 8 fishing boat were rescued on November 17 in waters off the town of Languyan in the province of Tawi-Tawi. Languyan is 308 kilometers away from Zamboanga City.

The victims reportedly attempted to escape from their captors via boat, as the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu began operations for their rescue.

JTF Sulu troops then intercepted the fishermen's boat in the area of Sugbay Island at 1:30pm Friday, said the military's Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).

They were presented to the media on Monday at the Naval Forces Western Mindanao Headquarters of the Wesmincom.

The fishermen were identified as Vergel Aquino from Davao City, and Jushua Ybanez, Emo Fausto, Junald Minalang and Spriano Sordid of Pagadian City. 

Authorities said they were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf on October 14, while seeking shelter along the coast of the town of Pangutaran in another southern island province of Sulu due to bad weather.

According to Wesmincom Chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, the continuing conduct of combat operations to rescue the kidnap victims left the Abu Sayyaf unable to focus and gave the contacts an opportunity to lead the kidnap victims to safety.

On Friday, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said the abduction of six other locals in Sulu on Tuesday by 15 Abu Sayyaf members was a sign they are desperate to sow terror.

"The recent abduction of six locals indicate that the ASG in the area is already facing dark needs and hence are targeting so many local individuals that have not been in their list previously," Padilla said.

The military is stepping up its pursuit of remaining Abu Sayyaf and another rebel group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the southern islands of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, where they have been known to be hiding.

READ: Military eyes lifting of martial law in Mindanao by year's end