Although this kidnapping incident reportedly led by the infamous Filipino bandit group, the Abu Sayyaf of the Al Qaeda network happened more than two years ago, this is as timely as today’s headlines. What’s significant in this news is that a deaf person was the victim.
Nineteen year old deaf Grace Gonzales, daughter of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) President Eligardo Gonzales, was held captive for almost two months until her release on Sept. 22, 2006. The kidnapping took place just outside the family’s residence in Aurora Village, Barangay Guiwan, Isabela City, Basilan Island in July 30.
She was released 53 days later after her father paid an undetermined amount to her abductors to cover “board and lodging” expenses. Until now, the identities of the kidnapers remain unknown, although reports said that members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group were behind the abduction.
Basilan Island became famous in 2001 when American Christian missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were kidnapped by the same group. During the eventual rescue attempt by the Philippine Army on June 7, 2002, Martin was killed by three gunshots in the chest while Gracia was wounded in her right thigh but later survived.
Here is the story in Filipino Sign Language of Grace’s personal ordeal in the hands of her abductors: