Kidnap Survivor Says Prayer Saved Her
MANILA -- “Prayers and faith in God saved me!”
This was the emphatic statement made by Ledejie Tomarang, 18, who dashed to freedom in a daring do-or-die escape on July 20 after being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf terror group in the jungles of Sulu for 113 days.
This writer was the first to interview Miss Tomarang (pictured above) over the phone just 10 hours after she escaped from her captors in the boundary of Barangays Kagay and Sawaki, Indanan town, in Sulu, some 900 kilometers south of Manila.
“It was past 7 a.m. when all of a sudden we heard a loud boom in the area where the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) held two of us hostages -- me and an innocent three-year-old boy, Eggie Garban,” Tomarang said.
“The next time I noticed, our hostage takers, the Abu Sayyaf scampered to all directions, rattled from the explosion. Upon seeing them running, I also ran away,” she said.
“Then I spotted from a distance soldiers firing their guns at the Abu Sayyaf terrorists who were confused over what was going on,” she added.
“Seeing the rare opportunity, I took the chance to escape. I was scared, but I continued running for my life. For me it was now or never,” Tomarang said.
“I slowed for a while and turned around to see if my kidnappers were following me, but there was none,” she said.
Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS), earlier ordered a military operation upon receiving an intelligence report that Abu Sayyaf terrorists were holding their hostages in Kagay and Sawaki in Indanan.
According to the teenage hostage victim, she was exhausted after wandering the jungle of Indanan for about an hour until she saw a civilian and asked for his help.
She told the civilian, whom she did not identify, that she just escaped from her Abu Sayyaf captors.
“I begged him to bring me to the nearest military outpost which he did and I profusely thanked him for his kindness,” Tomarang said. “The civilian even gave me food to eat and water to drink and asked me to rest for a while because I was exhausted. I did and after an hour he brought me to a military camp in Bud Dato, the highest mountain peak in Sulu.”
The 18-year-old woman said, “During my 113 days of captivity, I always prayed to God to help me return to my parents who are so worried about me, and I say God heard and answered my prayers as always.”
Ms. Tomarang, a Christian, thanked God for saving her life from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
The ASG bandits took Ms. Tomarang on March 30 this year from her hometown of Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur where she was on a summer job in a bakery shop.
She said that while inside the bakery, heavily armed Abu Sayyaf terrorists arrived, terrorizing the residents in the area.
“They pointed their guns at me, so I was helpless. Besides, I am just a 17-year-old girl at that time,” Tomarang said. “I was caught by surprise, and before I knew it, the terrorists seized me and brought me to the seashore nearby where they put me in their motorboat.”
“The owner of the bakery was able to slip to an adjacent room of the bakery, but I was left all alone,” she said.