PNP: No ransom for ICRC workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has denied reports that members of the Abu Sayyaf group demanded P50 million “cigarette money” as claimed by two officials.

Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome, PNP spokesman, denied claims by Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema and Abdul Sahim, chairman and secretary general of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), respectively, that the kidnappers had demanded “pangsigarilyo” [cigarette money] in exchange for the freedom of Italian Eugenio Vagni, Swiss Andreas Notter, and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba.

Sema and Sahim told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of the, that the government could either pay ransom or attempt a “very dangerous” rescue operation.

But in an interview Thursday, Bartolome denied this and said that they have not received any information of any ransom demand from the rebel group.

When asked to comment on Sema and Sahim’s statements of a “very dangerous” rescue operation, Bartolome said, “We respect their opinions but that is their own statement. We are conducting our own operations.”

It has been almost two months since the abduction of the three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The three were seized in Sulu last January 15.

Abigail Kwok,

Published in: on March 12, 2009 at 5:23 pm  Comments Off on PNP: No ransom for ICRC workers  
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