Ransom paid for release of Chinese tourist, says OFW
MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato—The Filipino migrant worker abducted in Malaysia along with a Chinese national by suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists in April believes a ransom was paid for their release by the family of her fellow captive.
Forty-year-old Mercedita Dayawan, of this town, said she took part as a translator in the negotiations for the release of Chinese national Gao Hua Yuan.
The two were seized by Filipino gunmen from the Singmata Adventures Reef and Resort on Sabah on April 2. Dayawan worked at the resort as a receptionist while Gao was there as a tourist.
“I served as a translator between Gao and the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers so I know how much money was involved,” Dayawan said in an interview over Church-run Radio dxMS.
She said that Gao, 29, a student from Shanghai, was in touch with her parents. The kidnappers, she added, initially demanded P500 million for her release.
“Gao would talk to her parents and then tell me in English what the conversation was all about. I would then translate it to Filipino for the captors,” Dayawan said.
She said the kidnappers eventually settled for P300 million, to which the Gao family agreed.
“I was convinced money was paid because that was repeatedly demanded by the kidnappers before they would free us,” she said.
But Philippine and Malaysian authorities would insist that no ransom was paid, she said.
She said the group, led by an Alhabsi Misaya, held them in the jungles of Indanan, Sulu.
“They called their leader Misaya and sometimes Maas (elder),” she said.
Dayawan recalled that while in captivity, she served as Gao’s caretaker, attending to her needs in the mountains of Sulu.
“She cried heavily when we parted ways in Kuala Lumpur,” Dayawan recalled.
“Most of the time we were fed fried chicken the Abu Sayyaf bought from a food store somewhere, masarap din (it was quite tasty),” she said.
When Gao celebrated her birthday on April 8, Dayawan said the kidnappers bought “special food” in town.
The kidnappers, she said, did not do anything bad to them.
“They did not touch us, they respected us as women,” she said.
But Dayawan said they were tightly guarded, watched by at least two armed men all the time.
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