By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines (AA) – The Philippines’ military confirmed Thursday that the grandson of a businessman was released after nearly two months in captivity in the majority Muslim southern island province of Sulu.
Army Maj. Filemon Tan, Western Mindanao Command spokesman, told reporters that Ryan Nunez Tan, 21, was released Tuesday evening in Zamboanga City on the larger southern island of Mindanao.
“He [Ryan] was received by his family in Zamboanga City last night and is now in Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur [province] reunited with his family,” he said.
The fate of the 70-year-old grandfather, Antonio Tan, remains unknown since the two were abducted by around six gunmen in Zamboanga Del Sur on March 23.
They were reportedly taken to Sulu and turned over to the Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group before being separated by their captors.
There was no mention of whether a ransom had been paid for Ryan’s release.
The pair had been among six Filipino captives believed to still be captive in the jungles of Sulu, where the Abu Sayyaf is also suspected of holding a Canadian, a Norwegian, four Malaysians and a Dutch national.
Another Canadian — kidnapped alongside his countryman, the Norwegian and a Filipina in September — was beheaded last month after a 300-million peso (more than $6 million) ransom failed to be paid.
Meanwhile, Tan also confirmed Thursday that the military had deployed a marine battalion to another southern island province, Tawi-Tawi, to intensify security following three incidents in which foreign crew were abducted in recent months.
“The reason of deployment [from Zamboanga City to Tawi-Tawi] of marines is to reinforce the troops on the sea lanes [in Tawi-Tawi],” he said.
Of the hostage sailors, 14 Indonesians kidnapped in two separate incidents have been released following negotiations between the militants and the governments of the neighboring countries.
Earlier this month, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to hold joint patrols following a trilateral meeting to address recent hijacking and kidnapping cases in the region’s waters.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf group — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.