World Bulletin / News Desk
Western Mindanao Command said in a statement Wednesday that Elmer Romoc -- who was abducted alongside his son and wife over three months ago -- was released in the island province of Sulu, a known Abu Sayyaf stronghold.
"His son, Ricson, is still in captivity. Intel monitoring and coordination with the AKG [Anti-Kidnapping Group] are currently being conducted by the Western Mindanao Command," said spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr.
Romoc’s wife, Nora, was released in August, a few weeks after the family was reportedly seized by gunmen while dining at home in Zamboanga Sibugay province and forced onto a motorboat.
Nora’s sister-in-law, Angelina Romoc, told news broadcaster ABS-CBN the family had paid a ransom, but she was unsure of the amount.
Tan said Wednesday that Romoc was transported Tuesday from Sulu’s capital Jolo to Zamboanga City where he was greeted by his family and AKG personnel.
Romoc was then brought to the AKG office for medical attention and custodial debriefing.
It was not disclosed whether the Romoc family paid ransom for his release.
Local radio stations reported that negotiations were on-going for the safe release of the son.
Kidnap-for-ransom gangs operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula are known to hand over their captives to the Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that -- if paid -- is shared with the group.
The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding around 14 hostages -- including nine foreigners -- on Sulu.
The military has blamed the group for the recent abduction of six sailors from a Vietnamese-flagged vessel off Basilan as well as a German man -- whose partner was shot dead -- from a yacht off the neighboring island province of Sulu.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- 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.
The Abu Sayyaf is among two militant groups in the south who have pledged allegiance to ISIL, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the country's one-time largest Moro rebel group that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.