Keep working for ICRC workers, Misuari asked

MANILA, Philippines — The military wants Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari to continue working for the release of three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who continue to be held hostage in Sulu close to two months after they were kidnapped.

“We want Misuari to keep on trying. The crisis committee…they agree to Misuari trying to negotiate, and we welcome anything that will help solve the crisis peacefully or nonviolently,” Brigadier General Gaudencio Pangilinan, chief of the Armed Forces’ Civil Relations Service, said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Reports say Misuari was not able to communicate with the aid workers’ captors because of bad weather and the heavy presence of military and civilian auxiliary forces in the area.

Misuari had been requested by civil society groups in Sulu to lead negotiations for the release of Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba.

Despite his failure to meet the kidnappers, who have introduced themselves as a faction of the Abu Sayyaf, the military remains hopeful Misuari will succeed in bargaining for the release of the ICRC workers.

“Being a native of the place, he knows everybody there, maybe that’s one of his strength[s], and being a leader too. Remember there are MNLF members in the area, so maybe if Misuari says all MNLF should give information as to the whereabouts, location and position of the hostages, the victims, it will help a lot if Misuari can declare that,” Pangilinan said.

However, if this does not work, the Armed Forces will be forced to use force to rescue the hostages.

“The option is on us but the crisis committee will have to decide when to use the final option, the military option. The military option is to maintain the pressure, constrict them [in] specific areas — not too close, not too far, only to allow medicine and food to come to the victims,” Pangilinan told INQUIRER.net.

Pangilinan also warned the kidnappers not to harm the hostages.

“They’ve been warned. We hope the kidnappers are smart enough not to harm any of them because we may not get them now, not tomorrow, not next year, but we will eventually get them. The long arm of the law will catch up with them,” said Pangilinan.

Erika Tapalla, INQUIRER.net

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Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 9:26 pm  Comments Off on Keep working for ICRC workers, Misuari asked  
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