PM: ABU SAYYAF HOSTAGES ‘WENT THROUGH HELL AND BACK’
PM thanks Philippine President Duterte for saving victims
THEY “went through hell and back”, surviving only on rice and muddy water, all the while being threatened with harm and decapitation.
For eight months, they suffered physical, mental and emotional torture. Yet, they were determined to survive.
And survive they did, eventually being rescued by Philippine security forces.
Now, all five are safely back home, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday paid tribute to the victims after hosting three of them at his home in Taman Duta.
The trio — Fandy Bakran, Mohammad Jumadil Rahim and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail — were the last to be rescued. Philippine security forces freed them at 11.20pm on Sunday in Panglima Estino, Sulu province, some 26km from where their crewmates Tayudin Anjut, 46, and Abdul Rahim Sumas, 63, were rescued three days earlier.
The five had been aboard the tugboat Serudong 3 in waters off east Sabah when they were kidnapped in July last year.
“Can you imagine, they were on the brink of being decapitated. They’ve gone through hell and came back. So, today is about the three of them,” Najib said.
“They slept in the open, and (only) ate rice with salt and drank salty water or water from puddles. Alhamdulillah , this has passed and they are brave and determined.”
He also praised the trio for requesting to join the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and to be stationed in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone to keep its waters safe, a request which he granted.
Najib said the trio would undergo medical check-ups before being allowed to return to their homes in Sabah and Pahang.
It was later learnt that they were sent to Selayang Hospital, where Tayudin and Rahim were warded.
Tayudin and Rahim would be sent to perform their haj once they were medically fit, said Najib.
He said he would be calling Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to express his gratitude for the safe return of the five crewmen.
“I, on behalf of the Malaysian government, its people and the families involved, would like to express the highest gratitude to President Duterte because this rescue mission was done on his initiative to mark his 72nd birthday two days ago (March 28).
“His efforts are a sign of the close relationship between Malaysia and the Philippines.”
Najib also thanked the Philippine and Malaysian security forces, Wisma Putra, Sabah government and Kelab Putera 1Malaysia.
The prime minister said he would continue to oversee and issue updates on the status of Malaysian citizens stranded in North Korea, despite having to be in India for a state visit over the next few days.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak with the three rescued victims and their family members at his residence in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.