Lito Atienza's Blog


The freed forest guards recently kidnapped in Butuan City will be given honors for the courage they have demonstrated during their five-day ordeal with their abductors.

I want to express my gratitude to Butuan City Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, Police Chief Supt. Lino Calingasan and DENR-CARAGA Regional Executive Director Edilberto Buiser for taking all the necessary steps leading to the unconditional release of the remaining six hostages.

For the gallant DENR employees, I understand the hardship you have been through and the anxieties and untold miseries that the members of your families have experienced during those period of crisis.

The six newly-freed DENR employees were identified as for. Gabriel Arlan (team leader), Rito Espenido, Teofredo E. Pujadas, Rudy A. Clar, Edgardo Abogatal and Ildefonso Jayme. They were released Sunday at around 4:30 pm and were met by Buiser at Brgy. Kolambogan, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, about 25 kilometers away from Butuan City. Two were released earlier, namely, Emiliano Gatillo, Jr. and Efren Sabuero.

The abductors of their colleagues in Caraga region were neither kidnappers nor armed rebels but were simply tribal folks who want to bring their gripes to the national leadership in ways they knew best.

A Manobo group, led by a certain Andot Behing, did not demand for any ransom money, but certain conditions which they believed would serve the interests of their community over their ancestral claims.

Sila ay mga katutubo na may mga hinaing. Kaya ang ating ginawa ay nakinig at pinakinggan kung ano yon. Hindi rin po mga NPA (New People’s Army) yon, dahil hindi po naman sila kumaakapit sa ideology ng anuman (neither are they NPA since they are not idealogues embracing the agenda of the communist insurgency).

Wala pong kinalaman yon sa anumang alingasngas o ilegal kung hindi sa pagtatrabaho ng ating mga tauhan ay sila’y nasangkot dito at nabiktima ng hindi pagkakaintindihan.

I am recognizing the importance of DENR field workers as those who give substance to the DENR’s mandate. Those working within the comforts of an office building are far fortunate than those in the field like the DENR forest guards.

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