..KIDAPAWAN CITY – Armed men released on Wednesday two abducted farmers who were used as human shields when the suspects escaped from a village they attacked in North Cotabato province.
Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, chief of Tulunan town police, identified the freed kidnap victims as Arjay Manlatas and Noknok Pastolero, both workers at a farm lot owned by Rudy Penaflor of Barangay Popoyon, Tulunan.
Cordero said the victims were turned over to the local government unit (LGU) of Tulunan by Datu Paglas Mayor Tong Paglas who negotiated for the farmers’ release.
"Mayor Tong Paglas has helped bargain the release of the farmers after the Tulunan LGU sought his help. But there was no ransom paid in exchange of the victims’ freedom," Cordero said.
Some 80 fully-armed men attacked a farming village in Barangay Popoyon on Tuesday.
Cordero said the attackers were led by three commanders from the 108th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front identified as Commanders Pido, Swabe, and Bhutto Sanday.
Some 40 families, mostly Ilonggos, evacuated to safer places for fear they might get caught in cross fires.
Many of the displaced families are temporarily housed at the municipal gym of Tulunan; some sought shelter at the Popoyon Elementary School in Barangay Popoyon; while others built temporary shelters near the barangay hall.
Authorities also recovered on Wednesday a carabao that the armed men carted away as they withdrew from the area on Tuesday.
Cordero said they have yet to recover three of the seven farm animals and a 12-horsepower farm engine stolen by the suspects. (MCM of Sun.Star Davao)