- Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who were captured on the same day as Canadians John Ridsel and Robert Hall, was finally released by the Abu Sayyaf on Saturday
- Following Sekkingstad were Filipinos Daniella Taruc and Levy Gonzales who were dropped off on the place they were abducted on Sunday night
- The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) played a huge role in the release of the captives as they negotiated with the bandit group
The release of Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad was the start of good news soon to befall the country, as more hostages will be released by the Abu Sayyaf.
Along with Sekkingstad, three Indonesian fishermen - Teo Doros Kofong, Lorence Koten, and Emmanuel Arakian - were also freed on Saturday.
The four liberated captives are now joined by two more Filipinos, who were released on Sunday night at Panglimo Estino in Patikul, Sulu.
Telecom subcontractors Daniella Taruc and Levy Gonzales were abducted by the terrorist group on August 6, also on the location they were dropped off.
(photo credit: inquirer.net)
A 'concerned netizen' rescued the two and brought them to the Joint Task Force Sulu headquarters to be examined.
According to Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, more hostages were expected to be released following the unabating fight of the military against the Abu Sayyaf who were reportedly scattered all over Jolo.
"We are not stopping until they are destroyed. We have a strong mandate to destroy these bandits," he said, and then noted the efforts they have done.
"Simultaneous land, air, naval and police operations complemented each other putting pressure on the ASG."
Aside from the military's accomplishments, the release of the hostages will also not be possible without the help of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
"The MNLF knows the terrain. They know some of the people from the Abu Sayyaf and they have their own ways of dealing with the Abu Sayyaf," Dela Cruz said.
Not only did the country's military recognize the MNLF's contribution to the freed captives, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryanmizard Ryancudu also praised them for being professional.
"We appreciate the assistance of the MNLF. They know very well the terrain, they are very professional and they know what to do," he said.
MNLF's vice chair for political affairs Tahil Sali was the person sent to negotiate with Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron for the release of Sekkingstad, according to MNLF spokesperson Samsula Adju.
According to the group's policy, there was no ransom paid in exchange for Sekkingstad's freedom. MNLF's claims were contrary to Abu Sayyaf's, whose spokesman claimed that they were paid P30 million for the release of the Norwegian captive.
The ongoing war to eradicate the terror group has combined the efforts of the police, local government, military and the MNLF, which has resulted in a slow but steady race to success.
There are at least sixteen battalions sent to Sulu for the operation, who are also helped by the province's citizens.
(photo credit: gmanetwork.com)
"In fact, some of the civilian populace are giving us information and this is to our advantage, and hopefully in the coming days, this support will reduce and degrade the Abu Sayyaf into an insignificant level," dela Cruz said.
The optimism continues with the release of Taruc and Gonzales, as AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituo Padilla confidently stated that more of the 16 hostages will also be released due to military pressure.
Of the 16 hostages, 12 are foreigners - six Indonesians, five Malaysians and one Dutch. The remaining four are Filipinos.
Padilla noted that the released hostages were mostly in 'good condition' and the terror group had stopped pursuing the soldiers.
"Their world is getting smaller and it will be soon before we will be able to solve this. We’re not giving a timeline but we’re doing our best to bring resolution to this problem that we face in relation to this group," he said.