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PIA Press Release

6 remaining kidnapped DENR personnel freed

Butuan City (26 October) -- The DENR has succeeded in securing the freedom of the six other DENR hostages from the hands of kidnap leader Leonardo Andot Behing today without bloodshed. No ransom was paid.

"The release of the hostages was unconditional," the DENR Crisis Management Committee reported to Secretary Lito Atienza, Jr. The DENR personnel were freed by the kidnappers because of moral pressures after the negotiating panel led by NCIP Regional Director Atty.Jake Dumagan explained, the DENR programs and various assistance and projects for the lumads over the past years. The six remaining hostages identified as Forester Gabriel Arlan, Team leader, Rito Espenido, Teofredo E. Pujadas, Rudy A. Clar, Edgardo Abogatal and Idelfonso Jayme were accompanied by the NCIP Director in the remote mountain Barangay of Kulambogan about 25 kilometers from Butuan City. The hostages were met by the DENR Regional Executive Director Edilberto S. Buiser at the remote Barangay Kolambogan about 25 kilometers from Butuan City. They were immediately brought to the house of Butuan City Bishop Juan DeDios Pueblos where they took light meals before they were taken by the Philippine National Police for proper medical checkup and debriefing. DENR Secretary Lito Atienza,Jr. expressed happiness when he learned immediately of the release of the hostages. In a phone message Secretary Atienza said "I understand the hardship you have been through and the anxieties and untold miseries that the members of your immediate families and love ones have experienced during those period of crisis". Since the start of the crisis Secretary Atienza had been sending instruction to RED Edilberto S. Buiser about procedures and details of negotiation with the abductors. "The DENR Secretary was in close contact with the DENR Crisis Management Committee since the first day of the kidnapping incident," RED Buiser said.

Secretary Atienza congratulated the Crisis Management Team for a "job well done". "Rest assured that I will always be at your side in guarding our critical watershed and natural resources which you have courageously demonstrated", Secretary Atienza said.

RED Buiser thanked the NCIP director, the PNP Regional Director Chief Superintent Lino de Guzman Calingasan and the lumad leaders Datu Libano Iligan, Barangay Captain Tata Carlos, and other tribal elders who helped in the negotiation for the release of the abducted DENR personnel.

Buiser was accompanied by his senior staff Regional Technical Director for forestry Ali M. Bari, Regional Technical Director for Research Virgilio dela Cruz, PENRO Rosendo Asunto of Agusan del Sur, CENR Officers Jaime Acebu and Raul Rosales, when they fetched the release hostages in Barangay Kolambogan.

In his report to Secretary Atienza, the Crisis Management Committee said "the DENR personnel were freed by the kidnappers because of the moral pressures".

Likewise, the negotiating panel also explained to Behing about the DENR programs that made him realized his predicament and wrong actions. "The DENR has been always extending livelihood assistance to the lumads over the last two decades" RED Buiser said. (DENR-13/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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