Search goes on for kidnapped Fil-Chinese banker in S Philippines

A wealthy Filipino-Chinese rural banker kidnapped more than a month ago has yet to be released and the authorities and the family are desperate in search for proof-of-life evidence, police and sources close to the victim's family said Saturday.

Johnson Cuiting, president and owner of the Rural Bank of Placer in the southern city of Surigao, was snatched by four armed men at gunpoint in his house on Jan. 7. The suspects looted Teng's house before taking him away.

Senior Superintendent David Ombao, a police director in the southern Surigao del Norte province, disputed earlier police reports saying that Cuiting was freed in early February.

"It's a false report. We are happy if he is indeed released. We have even no information about the identities of his kidnappers," Ombao said.

Sources close to the victim told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the family lost communication with the kidnappers by the fourth day of Cuiting's abduction and now is desperately looking for any information linked to the victim's whereabouts, whether he is dead or alive.

People familiar with the kidnappings-for-ransom cases in the country said evidence at present indicated that the victim was very likely to have been killed.

Gangs have taken on a kidnapping spree in the past two months. More than 15 people were abducted in the Mindanao region in the south alone and at least nine are still in captive.

Last week, a Filipino-Chinese businessman, Wilson Tan, 50, and his daughter Jennifer, 10, taken by armed men in Cotabato, were released after five days in captivity after paying huge ransom.

In Western part of the Mindanao region, Philippine troops are still hunting down Abu Sayyaf militants allegedly holding a Sri Lankan national Umar Jaleel of Nonviolent Peace force on the Basilan island and three members of the International Committee ofthe Red Cross on Jolo island, namely, Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba. (from Xinhuanet)

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