From left, freed kidnap victims Frederick Banot and Cherden Masong few hours after their arrival in Zamboanga City on Friday. (Photo from

MANILA, Oct. 19, 2013— Two lay church workers kidnapped in Southern Philippines were freed after 43 days in captivity. 

Frederick Banot, 24, and Cherden Masong, 25, who were abducted in the remote coastal town of Lantawan, Basilan last Sept. 4, were released in Jolo, Suluon Thursday night. 

The two men work with the Claretians in helping Badjaos, an indigenous sea gypsy tribe and one of the most deprived and oppressed in the south, largely due to their lack of education. 

The Claretians said Banot and Masong were handed over by their captors to the military and brought to Zamboanga City on Friday morning. They finally met their families in the afternoon. 

“We thank the Lord for this grace and we thank all those who have prayed for their safety,” the Claretians said in the statement posted at their website, 

The statement did not give further details about the negotiation that eventually led to the release of the two Church workers. 

The group of armed men, who took Banot and Masong at the Bajau Learning Center in Lantawan town’s Sitio Pangasaan in Tairan village, also remains unidentified. 

Basilan is a known bailiwick of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for ransom kidnapping and other atrocities. (CBCPNews)