Teodoro dares bandits to free sick hostages

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro on Thursday said measures are in place and the opportunity for kidnappers to snatch victims anew in Mindanao is slim.

Teodoro, who was the guest speaker of the 72nd Zamboanga City Charter Day celebration, disclosed that he is satisfied with the measures adopted by the government forces based on the briefing given him by top military officials in the region.

“The chances na mauulit ito [kidnapping] are slim,” Teodoro said.

He disclosed that the military will conduct pursuit operations Basilan, where six people, including a Sri Lankan peace worker, are held hostage.

“We want to leave a message that this [kidnapping] will not be repeated,” he stressed, saying, however, that the safety of the hostages is of primary concern.

Aside from the Sri Lankan, three public-school teachers from Zamboanga City, a nine-year-old boy from Lamitan City and a lending company worker from Maluso, Basilan, are held by kidnappers.

Teodoro challenged the Abu Sayyaf bandits who are holding hostage three personnel of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to free the hostages if indeed true they have fallen sick.

Two of the three kidnapped ICRC staff members, namely, Eugenio Vagni, an Italian, and Filipino engineer Mary Jean Lacaba are reportedly sick.

Vagni and Lacaba, together with Andreas Notter, a Swiss, were seized by the bandits on January 15 after they inspected a water-distribution project at the Sulu Provincial Jail in Patikul town.

“Ang dapat gawin kung may sakit ang mga hostages, pakawalan nila [bandits],” Teodoro said.

He said the Abu Sayyaf bandits are trying to imply that it is the government that is at fault for the hostages’ getting sick. “Sila na ang nag-kidnap, kami pa ang may kasalanan na nagkasakit ang mga hostages, baligtad na siguro ang mundo,” Teodoro added.

He said the troops that have cordoned off the area in the town where the bandits and the hostages are holed out will remain in place.

There will be no payment of ransom and “we will not leave the area,” Teodoro stressed.

Aside from the three ICRC staff members, the bandits are also holding hostage a Filipino-Chinese businessman in Sulu province.

Bong Garcia Jr., Business Mirror

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Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 4:51 am  Comments Off on Teodoro dares bandits to free sick hostages  
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