Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I beg for your prayers, for the safety of my Auntie Milet.
She got kidnapped yesterday and no news yet from the abductors. Only this article from Inquirer is what we have as information.
Please pray for her!

From Inquirer:

Gunmen seize 4 peace workers in Basilan

By Julie Alipala
Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 04:41:00 09/16/2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Gunmen Monday seized four peace advocates in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, in an assault on humanitarian workers helping poor communities in an area known as a hotbed of lawless violence.

Church officials immediately appealed to the abductors to free their captives in the spirit of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, saying all that the four peace advocates wanted was to improve the lives of impoverished people.

Police identified the four as Merlie “Milet” Mendoza, Ludy Borja, Esperancita Hupida and driver Dionisio Estandante.

Their two companions, identifed as Romeo delos Reyes and Sahida Alasa, escaped, according to initial reports received by the authorities.

The six peace advocates were on their way to Isabela City when their vehicle was flagged down by at least 10 armed men, according to Senior Supt. Salik Macapantar, Basilan police chief.

Macapantar said the abduction happened at around 11:45 a.m. in the village of Kabangalan in Tipo-Tipo.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said the abductions were confirmed to him by Dedeth Suacito, executive director of the Nagdilaab, a nongovernmental organization based in Basilan.

Nagdilaab is a “Grameen-type” of NGO implementing a new kind of bank lending involving loans to poor people to help them start small businesses. “Grameen” is a word in Bangladesh which means “village” or “rural.”

The bishop told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Hupida, 42, a program director of Nagdilaab, “was on her way to Tipo-Tipo to assess projects.”

Borja works for a group called Sustainable Health Improvements through Empowerment and Local Development (SHIELD).

Appeal to kidnappers

The name Ludy Borja was supplied by the police. The name which the bishop gave to the Inquirer was Ludy Dikit. Presumably, they were referring to the same person.

The bishop described Mendoza as a Manila-based humanitarian volunteer who helps the local NGO look for funds for relief and rehabilitation, and assess possible projects.

Claretian Fr. Angel Calvo of Peace Advocate Zamboanga confirmed the abduction of the four but said he and his group still “don’t have any details at this moment.”

Calvo called on the kidnappers to “free the four captives in the spirit of Ramadan,” the fasting month for Muslims.

“The victims are peace advocates who spend their whole lives to bring peace to areas in Mindanao where (government) services are often lacking,” Calvo said.

Sanctuaries of gunmen

Basilan is a small island off the Mindanao mainland where various armed groups operate, including the Abu Sayyaf bandits, guerrillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and criminal bands.

There was no word from the authorities about who the gunmen were or what group they belonged to.

Mendoza was a former executive coordinator of Tabang Mindanaw, which was considered to be the biggest multi-sectoral humanitarian movement to deliver relief and rehabilitation services to strife-torn communities in Mindanao.

The Inquirer has also worked with Mendoza, who has documented the plight of war evacuees in Sulu.

Victor Taylor, who was formerly with Tabang Mindanaw, described Mendoza as “a freelance NGO worker who has spent time in Mindanao to source out funds for humanitarian work.”

Mendoza was also a former senior executive officer of Assisi Foundation, a social development nonprofit organization.

A number of kidnapping incidents have occurred in Basilan this year.

On June 10, two Marine soldiers went to Albarka, Basilan, to negotiate a supposed planned surrender of an MILF rebel. The “surrender” turned out to be a ploy and the two soldiers were seized. They were released unharmed three days later.

Rescued by police

On July 11, Abu Sayyaf bandits released the four linesmen of the Basilan Electric Cooperative after holding them captive for 15 days.

The Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead the linesmen if their demand for a P1-million ransom was not met, but eventually freed them in exchange for an unspecified amount for the “board and lodging fees” of their victims, officials said.

Two employees of the Cagayan de Oro City-based Power City Company were kidnapped by Moro extremists on July 16. The abductors demanded P3 million but police rescued the victims two days later after a gunbattle. The kidnappers escaped.

The most highly publicized case of kidnapping in Mindanao this year occurred in nearby Sulu on June 8, when ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, her two cameramen—Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama—and Prof. Octavio Dinampo were taken at gunpoint by suspected Abu Sayyaf men.

Four days later, Valderama was released. On June 17, Drilon and the two others were freed. Their releases followed payment of ransom amounting to millions of pesos.


Umma said...

What a devastating news about ur aunt. I pray that she is safe n sound and will be freed from her abductors very soon.
Just dont lose your faith in HIM.

Rintjez said...

It's a very tough situation. I'm sending prayers to your Aunty Millet and your family. Be strong and keep the faith.

God bless, Rini

rehabman said...

I'm praying that everybody's safe down there. And still hoping that sooner, peace in Mindanao will be achieved.

Spread Peace! Spread Love!

Cryptomillions said...

sad news. i'll pray for your aunt. sana asap may mgandang balita na.

Unknown said...

Hi, I pray for her safe return.

Sam said...

Hi! I hope your Aunt Milet is okay.

I'll just include her in my prayers...

rehabman said...

I'm praying that everybody's safe down there. And still hoping that sooner, peace in Mindanao will be achieved.

Spread Peace! Spread Love!