Manhunt still on for fleeing armed, still dangerous minor Agusan hostage takers
by Ben Serrano
April 10, 2011
PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (PNA) -Agusan del Sur Police Provincial Director Senior Supt. Jerome Sale Baxinela told newsmen here that manhunt operations against fleeing Agusan hostage takers still continue as of this press time claiming the armed suspects still posed danger but already have fled out of Barangay La Purisima.
Baxinela who cannot discuss in details joint police and military manhunt operations for security reasons said it would be difficult for the suspects to go back inside Barangay La Purisima area saying joint military and police forces are in the area monitoring movements of the armed group.
Baxinela admitted his office have not yet prepared affidavits of the remaining 12 hostages released thus they have not yet filed charges against the fleeing suspects two of whom he admitted were minors.
"We are giving the hostages time to rest after that we will extract affidavit from them so that charges be filed against the suspects. Now with regards to them being minors we will just let the court to decide on it", Baxinela.told this writer in a group interview.
The two have been implicated and faced criminal charges in the December 2009 hostage taking incident and because they were minors they were put under custody to Agusan del Sur Provincial Social Welfare’s Office.
Baxinela who just assumed post as Agusan del Sur police provincial director two weeks ago claimed he could not comment why the two minors Rejoy Brital, 17 alyas Bolantoy and Kenkem Perez, also 17 years old based on police records managed to escape at the DSWD custody being minors.
He said the third suspect alyas Dodong Sabay, 16 years old and first cousin of Kenkem Perez armed with shotgun is also on the run.
Baxinela could not explain why suspect Allan Brital Perez who is older brother of Ondo Perez and father of KenKem Perez who was earlier tagged by police as one of the suspect was included by the Crisis Management Committee as one of the released hostage victims.
Alan Perez with 12 others, eight of whom were school teachers were presented to media as hostages abandoned by their hostage takers during a brief press conference at the house of Prosperidad Mayor Alvin Magdamit noon of April 6 in Prosperidad town.
Baxinela said only two hostages Division Supervisor Hipolito Lastimado and Teacher-In-Charge Diosdedet Cabantac and who were earlier released last April 3 have so far signed their respective affidavit yet.
Cabantac’s contradicting revelations
But Cabantac in an exclusive interview by some newsmen claimed he and Lastimado were not actually “conditionally released” but were the ones who walked away and left their companions after they suggested to the minor hostage takers that they will find food to eat as no food arrived in the area for more than two days.
“We even returned to them that same day and cooked our food after securing food from residents in the area who was helping us after they noticed there was no food had arrived contrary to what the crisis management committee was saying. In fairness the committee might have sent us food but only one set of food arrived after that we got no more”, Cabantac said.
Cabantac claimed after eating he and Lastimado decided to go down to Prosperidad town proper which is more than 20 kilometers away to fetch medicines, water, food provisions after sensing they can’t eat if they will rely only on the promises of the government negotiators that they have sent food.
Cabantac admitted in tape recorded interview with this writer he was hesitant at first because he has his 13 year old daughter still in the hands of their abductors.
“But since I already befriended Kemken, Rejoy and Joel medyo lumakas loob ko na bababa ako sa bayan at kumuha ng pagkain, gamut at tubig kasama si Sir Lastimado. And so we decided to go down to supposedly fetch foods to our companions but when we were already in Prosperidad the crisis committee did not allow us to go back to our companions who were waiting for us, that started my worry since my daughter is still there”, Cabantac added even saying that he insisted many times that he be allowed to return back worried for the safety of his daughter but all requests failed.
Cabantac said the area where they were kept has very difficult terrain and admitted their hostage takers knew very much the terrain which has many caves especially in the mountainous portion.
Cabantac claimed they were going home afternoon of April 1 in Barangay La Purisima after attending schools’ commencement and graduation rites when the armed group of Brital, Kemken Perez and Joel took them hostage.
“My companions’ arms were all tied with ropes but I was able to get exemption thus I was free to move around. They are supposed to be in schools and all of them admitted they could have gone to school if only not hindered by extreme poverty situation that they have seek livelihood for their family. They even asked help from me if they can go back to school”, Cabantac said.
Cabantac claimed all of his statements were all same statements in the affidavit he issued and signed with the police.(PNA/Ben Serrano)
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