Wife wants Philippines to release Ullah


  • Nation
  • Monday, 09 Jun 2003

BY MUGUNTAN VANAR

KOTA KINABALU: The wife of the last Sipadan hostage Rolland Ullah, who escaped last week after three years in the captivity of Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Jolo, is yearning to reunite with her husband now being held by the Philippines military. 

Joy Acune is growing anxious over the continuing “custody” of her husband at the Philippine army's headquarters in Jolo since he was handed over by the local authorities to the military on Friday. 

“When will the military allow him to join us? I want him to see our situation. He is our only hope,” Acune, a mother of two, was quoted as saying by the Philipine Daily Inquirer.  

Acune, who has been staying in Zamboanga City for the last two years after leaving Semporna with her children, said she could not help but suspect Ullah, 44, was being held against his will by the military. 

“Instead of holding him in a military headquarters, they could do great service by sending him to a hospital,” she said. 

Questions have surfaced on whether Ullah was treated as an ex-hostage or a member of Abu Sayyaf. 

Commander of the Philippine Army’s 104th Brigade based in Jolo Col Alexander Aleo said they wanted Ullah, a Filipino native of Jolo, to “adjust better” before they release him. 

“If he gives us information, that’s good. We will not force him,” he was quoted as saying. 

However, Defence Secretary Angelo Reyes said in Manila that Ullah was being interrogated to determine whether he was a hostage or had co-operated with Abu Sayyaf. 

“Ullah is being treated as a released hostage. But if he had colluded with his Abu Sayyaf captors, he will face appropriate charges,” Reyes said. 

Ullah, together with 20 others (10 Western tourists, nine Malaysians and a Filipina), were grabbed from Sipadan on April 23, 2000 by Abu Sayyaf.  

All the other hostages were released within four months of the crisis after negotiations.  

But Ullah remained in captivity until his escape on Wednesday during a firefight between the gunmen and the army in Jolo. 

Ullah worked as a handyman with the Borneo Divers resort.  

His wife and children left Semporna for Zamboanga a year after the kidnapping. 

Most of the former hostages had sent e-mails to the Philippines government dismissing military theories that Ullah was part of Abu Sayyaf.  

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