PIA News Service - Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

Kidnappers release two DENR men in Butuan city 

BUTUAN CITY - Kidnappers have “conditionally” released two of the seven DENR employees they have abducted at a DENR checkpoint in the Taguibo Watershed, in Barangay Anticala, this City early morning on Wednesday, October 21, 2009. 

Forester I Emiliano Gatillano, Jr. and Efren Sabuero, Forest Ranger, arrived with a group of Manobo warriors headed by Datu Subang, Datu Kaligtasan and Tata Carlos, the barangay Chairman of the remote village of Padi-ay in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur where the remaining hostages are still being kept by the kidnappers. 

Gatilillano and Sabuero arrived past 7 pm last night with heavy police security escorts at the Regional Headquarters of PNP-Caraga, Camp Rafael Rodriguez in Barangay Libertad, Butuan City where they were met by Butuan City Congressman Jose Aquino II , Police regional director P/Supt Lino de Guzman Calingasan, DENR Caraga Regional Executive Director Edilberto S. Buiser, and his senior staff Regional Technical Director for Forest Management Ali M. Bari, PENRO Rosendo Asunto of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City CENR Officer Jaime Acebu. 

The two released -kidnapped victims where immediately brought to the conference room of the PNP regional command where they were served a packed meal brought from a commercial food outlet courtesy of Congressman Aquino. 

Gatillano and Sabuero appeared exhausted and haggard when they were presented to the media but declined to give further details of their 35-hour ordeal from the hands of the kidnap leader Andot Behing, a former CAFGU member and rebel returnee. 

They said that three of the abducted personnel needed immediate medical attention because of injuries sustained during their trip to the kidnapper’s hideout somewhere in Barangay Kolambogan in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur. 

It was gathered that there was another DENR employee in the group who had been in the kidnapper’s hideout beforehand when the abducted personnel arrived in the area. RED Buiser identified the eighth kidnapped victim as Idelfonso Jayme, forest ranger of CENRO Butuan City.

Jaymen was held earlier by the kidnappers while conducting a verification of the reported timber poaching and illegal mineral extraction at the Taguibo Watershed and was brought to the hideout where the rest of the abducted victims were holed in.

The “conditionally” released DENR personnel brought with them the demands of the leader Andot Behing which are the following:

1. Cancellation of permit of Mejore Woodworks, Inc. who was allegedly the cause of massive deforestation in Quezon Province in Luzon that claimed 1,800 lives, more or less, during the Nov. 29, 2004 tragedy.
2. Cancellation of CBFM Agreements of (a.) Hampapalay Farmers Multi Purpose Cooperative (Kulas’ request); (b.) Bagani Tribal Returnees Community Development Cooperative (BTRCDC ) at Bantolinao, Padi-ay, Suibagat, Agusan del Sur (Datu Subang’s request) and (c.) ITRIFADC/ ITFCDAI 
3. Demolish all check points from Senaka to Butuan City
4. Award the confiscated logs to Mr. Leonardo I. Behing (a.k.a. Andot Behing) which will be used to purchase a piece of land at Barangay Ampayon in Butuan City where they will construct a house for lumad students, and the rest of the proceeds will be used to pay the tuition fees of lumad students that are not scholars. These confiscated logs included the following: 1,500 cubic meters of lawaan, 500 cubic meters of narra logs and 1,000 cubic meters of gubas logs (all these species are prohibited/protected tree species).
4. They also want a share in the P200 million UDP funds for reforestation/planting  
5. For the kidnap victims to execute waivers for them not to file charges against the lumad “kidnappers”.
6. Clarify that they did not demand ransom of P 2 million.


These demands were noted by RED Buiser and assured the lumad emissaries that he will personally bring the matter to the attention of Secretary Lito Atienza Jr. since most of the demands of the kidnappers involve state policies.

Buiser said a multi-sectoral meeting is scheduled to be held separately at the the DENR Regional Conference Center at 8 am and at the Butuan City Mayor’s Office to be presided over by Mayor Democrito Plaza II. 

The topics to be discussed at the DENR conference room will be focused mainly on the demands of the kidnappers so that a win-win solution can be solved. Director Buiser said problems that can be solved at his own level and capacity will be given foremost concern while the issues that involve policies will be referred to Secretary Atienza for his action.

The two released kidnapped victims have requested that they be allowed to return back to the kidnapper’s lair since they gave a word to the leader of the kidnappers that they will be back soon after they got the medicines and clothes being requested by their fellow abducted employees and had delivered the demand.

But P/Supt Calingasan and Congressman Aquino however, asked that they stay for proper medical treatment to be administered to the two released abducted victims. 

Congressman Aquino has also reiterated that the local government officials particularly in Butuan City must be involved in this situation the fact that “this kidnapping incident” has already placed the City of Butuan into the limelight. (Eric Herzon F. Gallego, Chief, RPAO DENR Caraga/PIA-Caraga)