A COMMANDER of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was identified Friday as among the 10 suspects who snatched Italian Rolando del Torchio in Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte on Wednesday.
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity identified Saher Muloc, leader of the Muloc group, and commander of the “provincial police force” of the 113th Base Command of the MILF, as among those who kidnapped Torchio at his Ur Choice Bistro Café at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Muloc, he source said, goes under the alias of “Commander Red Eye.”
Torchio was kidnapped by 10 armed men, four of them posing as customers at his pizza parlor in Dipolog City.
The source said Muloc remained an active MILF commander of the 113th Base Command though reports indicated he was expelled due to his supposed involvement in illegal activities.
Before Muloc was tagged, Waning Abdusalam, another MILF commander who was involved in a series of kidnappings in Mindanao, was said to have been behind Torchio’s abduction.
An official police report said Saher Muloc along with his son Julmine were positively identified in the CCTV as among the 10 male abductors of Torchio.
Julmine Muloc was reportedly involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs in Mindanao.
The CCTV footage showed the armed men were in long pants, jackets, t-shirts and bull caps, and carried back packs and short firearms of different calibers.
Investigators also revealed the owner of the Silver Metallic Mitsubishi versa van used in the abduction was Amante Bagain Sagario, a resident of L6 BB Katipunan Village, Taguig City.
The vehicle was left abandoned by the kidnappers along Dipolog Boulevard, hours after the abduction.
Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero said it was possible that Torchio has been passed to the Abu Sayyaf and taken to Sulu.
Before Torchio was taken, two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina were abducted on Sept. 21.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the spate of kidnapping incidents involving foreigners would not affect the upcoming meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Coference (APEC), which will draw top officials from 21 countries in November.
“As far as APEC is concerned... we can rightfully say that we are prepared for any eventuality and we have done all the things that should be done to prevent such activity to happen during the APEC,” Gazmin said.
He added that the authorities were doing all they could to track the kidnappers and their victims down.
“The special instruction is to focus their military operation in securing, saving and ensuring the safety of the kidnap victims,” Gazmin said.
Guerrero said they will continue to launch “focused operations” based on information they received as to where the kidnap victims were reportedly located.
He could not confirm where they were, however, saying no proof of life had yet been received.