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Two Coast Guard Men Escape from Abu Sayyaf Abductors

Two Philippine Coast Guard personnel escaped separately from their Abu Sayyaf captors Thursday after an intense firefight broke out between the bandit group and government troops on Wednesday, the military said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Captain Rowena Muyuela said Seaman First Class Rod Pagaling and Seaman Second Class Gringo Villaruz were recovered by civilians about an hour and a half from each other in Barangay Buanza in Indanan, Sulu Thursday morning,

SN1 Villaluz was found by civilians and taken to the residence of Salip Tito Jainal, chairman of Bgy. Buanza, at around 6 a.m.

Meanwhile, SN1 Pagaling was recovered also by civilians in the same barangay at 8:30 a.m. and was immediately brought to a local Marine detachment.

The two were immediately taken to the hospital for medical examination.

Pagaling and Villaruz escaped from their captors at the height of a military offensive launched by the Philippine Army’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion on Wednesday to rescue the two and the group’s other foreign hostages.

Elite Scout Rangers forces stormed the extremist group’s base, leaving 15 bandits dead. However, only five bodies have been retrieved.

The bandit group abducted Pagaling and Villaruz along with barangay chairman Rodolfo Buligao while they were monitoring the arrival of vessels off Dapitan City last May 4.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Buligao last August 11 after his family failed to pay the ransom demanded by the group. His decapitated body was found at a road intersection in Bgy. Lunggang in Maimbung, Sulu.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday, Malacañang praised the military for ensuring the safe recovery of the two Coast Guard personnel from their Abu Sayyaf captors.

“We commend the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Task Force Sulu for conducting operations that have led to the fleeing from captivity of two PCG personnel namely, Seaman First Class Rod Allen Pagaling and Seaman 2nd Class Gringo Villaruz,” Presidential Communications Operations Sec. Herminio Coloma Jr. said.