The past came back to remind Senator Richard J. Gordon last Wednesday of a good deed done in the past.
While in the middle of the last day of session before the Senate went on its Lenten Season recess, Gordon had a surprise visit from siblings Crisanto and Crisaline Reambonanza, who turned out to be among the survivors that he rescued from an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping nearly 20 years ago.
When they saw Gordon as he stepped out of the Senate Session Hall, Crisanto and Crisaline were full of joy and excitement as they told the senator that he rescued them from the Abu Sayyaf in the year 2000.
“Kasama po kami noon sa mga hinostage ng Abu Sayyaf na ni-rescue nyo. Kinuha po nila kami sa school namin, sa Tumahubong Elementary School. Mga bata pa po kami noon. Bale tatlo kami sa nasamang hinostage, kasama yung kuya namin,” Crisanto told Gordon.
“Ako po ang pinakabatang dinukot nila noon dun sa school. Si Kuya Crisanto seven yata noon, three years old lang po ako noon, hindi pa ako nag-aaral noon pero sumasama lang ako sa mga kuya ko sa school,” Criseline said for her part.
The two expressed their heartfelt gratitude for Gordon, who, back in 2000, immediately talked with the Abu Sayyaf upon learning that the bandits took hostages several teachers and students from two schools in Tumahubong Sumisip, Basilan.
“Utang na loob po namin sa inyo na buhay kami ngayon at tapos na ng pag-aaral. Takot na takot po kami noon habang nandun kami sa hideout ng mga Abu Sayyaf sa bundok. Habang nandoon kami, di nila kami sinaktan pero yung mga bata doon lagi kaming tinatakot na kami na ang susunod na papatayin,” Crisanto said.
On March 20, 2000, while exchanging fire as they fled from soldiers who were pursuing them, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group took hostages a priest, several teachers and some 50 students from two schools in Tumahubong. Among the kidnap victims were Claretian priest Fr. Rhoel Gallardo and three teachers who were found dead on May 3, 2000; their bodies bore signs of torture.
Upon learning of the abduction, Gordon, then still a governor of the Philippine Red Cross, went to Basilan and started talks with the Abu Sayyaf for the release of the victims. Some of the hostages, including the Reambonanza children, were turned over to him a week later.