Government forces tightened security at the school of kidnapped teachers Tino Sanchez and Rene Sumagang in Iligan City after their captors reportedly threatened to burn down the facility, a military spokesman said.

Three platoons, or about 60 members of the PNP’s 10th Regional Public Safety Battalion, Army’s 2nd Mechanized Brigade, and Iligan City Police are now guarding the Limunsudan Bayug Falls Elementary School in Brgy. Rogongon, Capt. Albert Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said.

“Mayroon kasing threat na i-burn down ‘yung school kung hindi maibigay yung demand nila (kidnappers) na P4 million within 36 hours,” Caber said in a phone interview.

The threat, which the kidnappers calling themselves “Tonda Force” relayed to barangay officials, expired Friday night, he said.

The kidnappers are led by a certain Danagao Elias, who has pending charges for an arson incident committed in 2009 and is a “known extortionist,” Chief Supt. Jufel Adriatico, Northern Mindanao regional police director, said in a phone interview.

“They (kidnappers) are also known cattle rustlers. Kumukuha sila ng farm animals at binebenta sa Lanao del Sur, doon ang bentahan,” Caber said.

Sanchez, Sumagang, and fellow teachers Arnel Pingas, Reynold Paringue, and Editha Nunial were abducted by five armed men at Purok 3 Kibulag, Sitio Limunsudan, Brgy. Rogongon, on Monday.

Pingas, Paringue, and Nunial, who were released the same day, brought the kidnappers’ “demand letter,” police said. (John Roson)

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