PM: ABU SAYYAF HOSTAGES ‘WENT THROUGH HELL AND BACK’

PM thanks Philip­pine President Duterte for sav­ing vic­tims

New Straits Times - - Front Page - VEENA BAB­U­LAL AND TEOH PEI YING KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

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.

PIC BY SAIRIEN NAFIS

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak with the three res­cued vic­tims and their fam­ily mem­bers at his res­i­dence in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

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