Breaking: Abu Sayyaf frees kidnapped Marites Flor

MANILA, PHILIPPINES—Abu Sayyaf extremists rejoiced as they watched two Canadians being beheaded in the jungles of the southern Philippines, said a still-shocked Filipino hostage who was freed Friday. (June 24), The Philippine Star reported.

Cabinet secretary Jesus Dureza also posted the release of Flor in his Facebook page today showing the secretary and Flor hugging each other at the airport tarmac.

Marites Flor hugs Secretary Jesus Dureza . (FB)
Marites Flor hugs Secretary Jesus Dureza . (FB)

Marites Flor tearfully recalled to reporters the harrowing moment when Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall were handcuffed and led away to a nearby jungle clearing to be separately decapitated in April and early this month by the ransom-seeking militants.

She said that Hall, who was killed early last week, was her fiancé. Ridsdel was beheaded by the militants in April.

“It’s so painful because I saw them moments before they got beheaded,” Flor told reporters in southern Davao city, where she was flown to meet President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

Police Superintendent Junpikar Sitin says Marites Flor was abandoned by the gunmen in front of the house of Sulu provincial Gov. Abdusakur Tan before dawn Friday. She was later turned over to the military for medical checkup.

Flor was abducted with two Canadians, John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad by the ransom-seeking militants from a resort on southern Samal island in September last year. Sekkingstad remains in captivity.

Flor could provide insights into the moments before Ridsdel was beheaded by the militants in April, followed by Hall last week.

According to a Maclean’s article on Robert Hall, the two meet through correspondence.In August 2014, Hall” traveled to her home country to meet her. He toured the region and was introduced to most of Flor’s family, including her teenage son. Her Facebook friends remarked at how radiantly happy she looked, in those photos with Hall’s arm draped around her.”

“Back in Canada the following month, Hall prepared for his slow return on Renova. “I love you with all my heart and life,” he wrote to her, according to one of her posts on Facebook. In December 2014, after reaching Hawaii, Hall sent another message: “I shall be finding you a very special ring as my commitment to you forever, and you are my greatest gift, for Christmas and eternity.”

“When he finally made it back to Philippines in spring 2015, Flor and Hall went sailing and snorkelling together, and she’d watch him on soccer fields. In March, she brought her boyfriend along to her son’s school graduation. Pinned to Hall’s short-sleeve dress shirt was a badge marked “parent.” She joined her beau last April on a 1,000-kilometre yacht journey to the island of Palau.”

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