- 5 people, illegal loggers, were reported missing in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte on Saturday
- The case has elevated into kidnapping when the families received a call of ransom from the supposed kidnappers
- The bandit group is headed by wanted criminals Jamilon Wahab and Bating Lumiguis, known for extortion and kidnapping in the area
Five illegal loggers who went to the hinterlands of Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte on Saturday were reported missing and on Monday, local Zamboanga police have elevated the case of the missing persons to kidnapping after the victims’ families received a ransom demand from the supposed kidnappers.
Provincial Director of the Zamboanga del Norte Police Senior Supt. Raul Tacaca said families of the illegal loggers received a phone call from the kidnappers late Monday evening initially demanding P10 million for the safe release of their relatives.
However, after a few hours of negotiations, the ransom dropped to P15,000 for each captive.
The victims were reported missing when they went to an area said to be a stronghold of a lawless group responsible for abductions as well as extortion activities in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Sirawai Mayor Gamar Janihim said the lawless group has been demanding protection money (extortion) from illegal loggers over the past few years.
According to an ABS CBN News story, the bandit group is headed by a certain Jamilon Wahab and Bating Lumiguis, who are both wanted criminals.
Mayor Janihim said families of the victims are poor and are not capable of paying the ransom.
The local government also follows the no ransom policy in dealing with kidnapping cases.
The local police and military have already launched a joint operation to safely rescue the victims.