MANILA –President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday presented before the media an 8-year-old boy kidnapped by the terror group Abu Sayyaf in Zamboanga Sibugay last year.
The President presented Rexon Romoc in Malacañang, a day after the boy was released from Jolo, Sulu where he was held captive for almost seven months.
Duterte thanked Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza, former Sulu governor Sakur Tan, his son and incumbent governor Totoh Tan as well as other well-meaning elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“I’d like to thank Secretary Dureza, Governor Sakur, the son who is also the Governor for a humanitarian job. Iyon namang mga Ulama who adopted the boy and, of course, the armed men there, thank you this time for treating a human being just like a human being,” Duterte said.
Rexon was kidnapped on August 5 last year, along with his parents Elmer and Nora, in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.
His mother and father were released in August 22 and November 15, 2016, respectively after paying ransom.Dureza said that Nora was released after paying some small amount to their captors.
“Upon being released, she then sold everything they owned including their ‘sari-sari’ store and borrowed money from friends and relatives to pay for the release of Elmer and Rexon. The father was released but the captors did not release the boy and continued to keep him hostage. Until we recovered him yesterday,” he said.
Dureza said he was instructed by the President to work for the boy’s release without letup.
In the meantime, Duterte said there is still a lot of work to be done to rescue the remaining hostages still in Abu Sayyaf hands and assured that the government would exert all efforts to secure their release.
“For the rest of the – ‘yung mga hostages doon, medyo they still have a lot of work to do. It’s all money and convincing. We have Nur (Misuari) on our side, maybe that’s why Secretary Dureza was a bit successful this time,” he said.
“But I hope this would continue and there’s no other way to do it except there’s a military operation going on. And I would like to assure everybody that for as long as there is the violence being perpetrated, the Republic of the Philippines will continue with its military operations,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, the parents of Rexon expressed their gratitude to President Duterte and all those involved in the release of their son.
“Unang-una, nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoong Maykapal saka kay President. Maraming salamat po, sir,” an emotional Nora said.
Rexon’s father also expressed his gratitude who said it was because of the officials that they got their child back.
“Dahil sa kanila, nakuha, naibalik yung bata namin sa amin. Salamat po sa lahat,” Elmer said.
Rexon also thanked the officials.