JOLO: Marine policeman Zakiah Aleip is under heavy guard in a jungle hideout about 18km from Jolo town in the southern Philippines.
“Our informants told us that he was seen in the Indanan area,” said a senior police officer here who declined to be named.
He said the area was dotted with fruit orchards and coconut plantations, and was on the border of the Indanan and Parang municipalities.
Octavio A. Dinampo, a Mindanao State University lecturer and former Abu Sayyaf hostage in Jolo, has a good idea of what Kons Zakiah, 26, will have to endure.
He said Kons Zakiah will most probably be made to wear a black jacket, like any that could be bought from second-hand clothing stores in town.
“Both the hostage and Abu Sayyaf members will be in black so that if there is a rescue operation the security forces will not be able to easily distinguish the hostage from the captors,” he added.
Dinampo was kidnapped with famous Filipino news anchor Ces Drilon and others on Jolo island on June 8, 2008 and released nine days later after ransoms were paid.
According to him, Kons Zakiah would be watched but not tied up during the daytime.
“He will probably be made to stay on a hammock where he will be guarded by about five or six gunmen,” Dinampo said.
At night, Kons Zakiah would be tied up, handcuffed or chained.
“He is a trained policeman and the Abu Sayyaf will expect him to make an escape if the opportunity presents itself,” said Dinampo.
The 57-year-old Dinampo is a Tausug who has been investigating the business of kidnapping in the Sulu province, the nearby Tawi Tawi islands and Sabah.
According to him, the number of gunmen guarding Kons Zakiah would be increased to about 20 or more at night.
“That is standard procedure for the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.
He said Kons Zakiah would be guarded round-the-clock by teams in three eight-hour shifts.
“Even when he goes to the toilet, he will be escorted by several armed men,” Dinampo said.
There would also be a second layer of security positioned on the fringes of the hideout, probably a kilometre or two away.
Kons Zakiah was snatched from Mabul island off the Sabah coast late on Saturday night. His colleague, Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed during the abduction.
In Kota Kinabalu, Zakiah’s wife Sharifah Erna Berson has been busying herself with prayers and fussing over their four-month-old son Muhammad Hisham.
She hopes he will be freed before Hari Raya and the family has been holding sembayang hajat (special prayers) for his safe return.
“We are praying that my husband will always be protected by God. We hope that he will return safely as soon as possible,” she said yesterday.
The housewife is staying with her husband’s family but declined to say where exactly. The family home is in Tenghilan, some 70km from the state capital.
She also declined to say whether she had received more calls from her husband or his abductors.
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