KUALA LUMPUR - Five Malaysian men held captive by Abu Sayyaf were fearing for their lives throughout their eight-month ordeal in the jungles of the southern Philippines as the Abu Sayyaf militants threatened to behead or shoot them.
Tayudin Anjut, one of two men rescued first, said they lived in the jungle and were moved from one place to another at night.
"Sometimes they wore face masks. We were not blindfolded or tied though," said the frail-looking man after being rescued and brought to the Prime Minister's residence yesterday.
There were no physical beatings but Tayudin and Abd Rahim Summas, the other rescued sailor, suffered body aches. They had to be wheeled into the residence as they were reunited with their family.
Tayudin, said the captives were forced to work for the captors.
"We were treated like slaves. Disuruh bikin itu, disuruh bikin ini (we were asked to do this and that)," he told the media.
According to Tayudin, they had little to eat and drink.
"We were ordered to cook for them, and they only gave us leftovers to eat ... if there was nothing left over, then there would be no food for us," he was quoted as saying by Bernama
"Sometimes we would have rice. Without food and medicine, my eyesight is failing and I can barely see now," he said.
Tayudin said the kidnappers allowed them to contact their families several times, but each time, they also threatened to kill them.
Both Tayudin and Abdul Rahim did not know they were being rescued.
"There were no parting words between us and the other three captives because we did not realise we were being released," he said.
The 45-year-old, who looks older than his age, was able to speak slowly despite his fatigue.
Abd Rahim, 62, however, could barely speak and choked on his words when he tried to answer questions posed by reporters.
"Thank you to the Government for helping us return to our home land," the older man said in barely a whisper.
Abd Rahim, who also suffers from high blood pressure, appeared weak and was bent over in the wheelchair as he was brought in.
His teary-eyed daughter Rasniyati, 40, hugged him and said she was glad that her father had been returned safely to the family.
She said Abd Rahim had contacted the family several times during his capture.
"Once he told me to tell my mother that his body ached all over," she said.
The two men will be treated at the Selayang hospital. They were among five tugboat crewmen abducted in waters off Dent Haven in Lahad Datu district last July 18.
Tayudin said that last Thursday, he and Abd Rahim were taken by villagers in a boat before being handed over to the Philippine authorities.
Tayudin was welcomed back by his wife Gustia Sultan, 47, and their children, Nurerin Farisha, 13, and Mohd Fahirin, five, while Abdul Rahim was met by his daughter Rasniyati, 40, and several other family members, who all could not hold back their tears when they met.
At 9.30am yesterday, ESSCom commander Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid confirmed that the three other kidnapped men - Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, - were rescued on Sunday night.