Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kidnap For Ransom,First Quarter 2011,Part II: Ceekim Gomonit and Olivia Angeles Barredo

Another victim from late 2010 has finally found his way home. The tragic story of 10 year old Ceekim Gomonit began on October 30, 2010. That evening Ceekim and his grandmother Nenia "Babet" Candil Gomonit were enjoying a relaxing couple of hours in front of the television in their Pagadian City home in Zamboanga del Sur Province. Early in the evening a group from the MILF's 113th Base Command kicked in their front door and dragged both family members into oblivion. Initially, as I alluded to in a prior entry on this case, authorities were stymied because unlike the 113th Base Command's usual modus operandi this group were all Cebuano (Bisaya) speakers and included a woman. The 113th Base Command are ethnic Maranaw (Maranao) and Iranun Tribesmen. To boot, Bisaya speakers are non-Muslims. This led some, including myself, to believe that the case may have been Rido (Clan Feud) based.

Unfortunately this was disproved by the discovery of the grandmother's corpse buried in a very shallow grave in the jungle just outside of the municipality of Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte Province. The town, which sits just over the border from Zamboanga is the main base of the 113th Base Command. The group exerts total control over the municipality and more over Mrs. Gomonit was buried according to Islamic Law (Shari'a). Her remains were discovered in November after her son, Ceekim's father, received an SMS (text message) from the kidnappers earlier that week. They had included an MMS (video text message) of Ceekim as Proof of Life during the on going ransom negotiations. Sadly the messages also included co-ordinates for the body.

Immediately after digging up the cadaver, the son who was there on site turned to the media and offered that this wasn't going to change his decision NOT to pay ransom. I won't presume to judge anyone under a clear state of duress but it takes a unique type of individual to take that stance as his own mother's rotting corpse lays beside him. Knowing that his own 10 year old son was STILL being held, probably in a bamboo cage, can only make one wonder what goes through such a man's head. He closed out that media soundbite by telling the reporter that he was merely doing what his mother would have wanted him to do.

Fast forward to Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 8AM. 10 year old Ceekim was blindfolded, transported to Cotabato City and released in an empty lot in Barangay Mother. Having been given money and written instructions he made his way bravely to the city's Jeepney Terminal and took a passenger van directly to Pagadian City, arriving at that city's Jeepney Terminal at 230PM. He then made his way via triksiad (ubiqitous form of public transport here in the Philippines) to his extended family's home in Sunrise Village, a subdivision within the municipality's Barangay Tiguma.

March 03, 2011, just hours after Maricris Quatrocruz was released by the MILF's 113th Base Command, another victim was snatched into incognito. 36 year old Olivia Angeles Barrero, like Maricris, is a resident of Zamboanga City. At 615PM,having just left the pharmacy run by her family in the city's Barangay Labuan, Mrs. Barredo was with her husband next to their SUV when she was approached by 2 men riding tandem on a single Honda motorcycle. Stopping to answer a question she and her husband were quickly boxed in by several gunmen who quickly drove up in 2 SUVs. As Olivia screamed at startled bystanders she was dragged into 1 of the sports utility vehicles which then sped off towards the shoreline. Her husband, who had bravely tried to save her was unscathed by the 3 rounds fired at him by the fleeing kidnappers. At the shoreline, as she was being carried from the SUV to an idling pump boat (small motorised craft) her screaming drew the attention of a Barangay Tanod (an armed guard employed by the barangay). The Tanod, accompanied by a large group of residents rushed to aid her. Although the boat had already shoved off the mob did manage to capture 2 of the kidnappers, both MILF guerillas, who were turned over to Zamboanga City PNP (Philippine National Police) after having been beaten severely.

The pump boat was soon joined by 2 other pump boats and all 3 were seen heading towards the municipality of Sibuco in Zamboanga del Norte Province. As of posting Mrs. Barrero is still being held although ransom negotiations are on going. The 2 captured guerillas, Abdulsalih Esmsail Mindoon and Zaldy Daing Mindoon were both found with 45 caliber pistols and are being held in Zamboanga City Jail.


  1. does this article mean a european person on holiday is not safe in Zamboanga del Sur Province

  2. Zamboanga del Sur Province is in fact the safest of the 3 Zamboagan Provinces.That said,Western Mindanao is one of 4 Mindanowan regions that are generally unsafe for foreigners due to an incredibly high crime rate,insurgency and of course KFR (Kidnap for Ransom0.That doesnt mean that all foreigners will be victimised,only that there is a high risk that you will be.Always vary your routine,do not tell lots of personal details, especially with regard to your itinerary,and always research the current situation in the exact area you are visiting because things change very quickly on the ground.