ZAMBOANGA CITY - The rejoicing over the release in Marawi City of two Mindanao State University (MSU) students by their kidnappers was cut short by a new kidnapping here on Wednesday.
Police said gunmen stormed the house of their victim, a 21-year-old woman, and killed her grandfather while forcing her into a getaway vehicle.
Senior Supt. Edwin Deocampo, acting city police chief, said the seven gunmen had apparently pre-identified their target, arriving at the residence of the Sogradiel family on Kilometer 26 in Barangay Manicahan here.
Deocampo said three of the men went into the house and four acted as lookouts after the group shot dead Jesus Sogradiel, 72, grandfather of their captive, Mary Cris Cuartocruz.
Policemen who rushed to the scene gave chase but failed to catch up with the suspects.
The new kidnapping case followed the release on Tuesday of the two MSU students and a Basilan school principal by their kidnappers.
Al Rasheed Sakahalul, Basilan vice governor, said principal Cecilia Rosas was released past 9 p.m. on Tuesday in the boundary of two villages in Tipo-Tipo town-Lagayas and Cabangalan.
"A small amount of token was given to the people who took care of her when she was abandoned there," Sakalahul said.
The vice governor, however, admitted that the "small amount of token" amounted to at least P200,000 (S$6,000).
Sakalahul's nephew, Albarkah town councilor Mujib Sakalahul, received Sosas from the villagers.
The victim was reunited with her husband, SPO2 Nestor Sosas, an hour after her release.
Earlier that day, the two MSU students held in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur since Dec. 7 had also been freed by their kidnappers.
Freed were Shiela Mae Vidal, 18, a hotel and restaurant management student; and Alcher Balicuatro, 19, an agriculture freshman.
Brig. Gen. Rey Ardo, chief of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, described the men who took the MSU students as neophytes, who easily gave in to military pressure and quickly released their captives.
But a military source said a prominent person in the province paid P250,000 (S$7,500) as "board and lodging fee" for the release of the students.
Also on Tuesday, paint salesman Edgar Cuajao walked to his freedom after being allegedly kidnapped by a grandson of a former Lanao police officer.
Ardo said Cuajao was released following negotiations with the kidnappers allegedly led by Ali Dagalangit, a grandson of retired police officer Filipino Dagalangit, in Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur.
Cuajao, 27, was in Carmen in Cagayan de Oro City when snatched on Dec. 11.
Ardo said the military and the police were investigating the case of Cuajao to determine the motive for the abduction.
But he acknowledged that kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative source of money for some groups in Mindanao.
-Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network