THREE abducted Indonesian nationals were yesterday morning released by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to the custody of the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF).
This was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman Major Filemon Tan Jr.
Tan identified the victims as Ferry Arifin, Dan Edi Suryono and Mohammad Mahbrur, crewmembers of Tugboat Charles 00.
The victims were released by the bandits to the custody of MNLF Chairman Nur Misua-ri, who turned them over to Sulu Governor Toto Tan.
Governor Tan brought the victims to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. General Arnel dela Vega.
Reports said the victims were released at around 11:15 p.m. in an undisclosed location to the MNLF.
The victims were kidnapped by gunmen on June 22, 2006 near Simisa Island, Sulu.
The Indonesian sailors were brought to Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital for medical examination and debriefing.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said he had already informed President Rodrigo Duterte of the latest development.
Westmincom spokesman Tan said that after the debriefing, the released hostages will be turned over to Indonesian officials.
"The release of the kidnap victims is an offshoot of the ongoing military operations to sustain pressure against the ASG and the assistance of the MNLF," he said.
Last September 17, the bandit group released Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and three Indonesian hostages Lorens Koten, 34; Thedorus Kopong, 42; and Emanuel Arakain, 46.
The bandits released the following day the Filipino hostages Daniela Taruc and Levy Gonzales.
Based on the last count of the military, the Abu Sayyaf is still holding eight foreigners and three Filipino captives.
With Efren Montano