AFP chief: No ransom demand for ICRC workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not have verified information that the Abu Sayyaf is demanding a P50-million ransom for the three kidnapped workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), AFP chief General Alexander Yano said Friday.

In a chance interview, Yano said the AFP has not received verified reports of the supposed Abu Sayyaf demand, contrary to the statement of Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema that the kidnappers led by Albader Parad are demanding the ransom.

“As far as the military, the AFP is concerned, we have not received such report that the ASG is demanding P50 million or whatever amount,” Yano told reporters.

Parad himself denied on Thursday that his group is asking for a ransom, saying their only demand was for government troops to pull out their military offensives.

Nevertheless, the government will stick by its no-ransom policy if the Abu Sayaff indeed made such a demand, the AFP chief said.

“But just the same, we [will] stick to the no-ransom policy and we will ensure the government or any other group will not pay ransom considering that this will make the criminals, such as the Abu Sayyaf, stronger. So we will stick to that policy,” he said.

Yano added that Task Force ICRC, the body led by Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan which was tasked to secure the hostages’ release, is “still very much in control” of the situation.

While the military wants to neutralize the kidnappers, the military is also intent on securing the safety and freedom of the hostages, Yano said.

“We want to get the kidnappers to answer for their criminals acts, it is also very important to safely rescue or get also the hostages. These are two objectives that should be balanced as much as possible,” he said.

“We are still exerting pressure, that’s why we are not pulling our troops out from the immediate vicinity and at the same time, we are not quickly attacking because we are still giving way to some other possible options to recover safely the hostages,” he added.

Last January 15, members of the Abu Sayaff abducted ICRC workers Swiss Andreas Notter, Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba in Patikul town in Sulu after the three inspected a water sanitation project at the provincial jail.

Yano said the military has also not validated reports that the three hostages have been separated from each other.

“We have not validated such report so we are still containing the hostages and the kidnappers in specific area and that will continue,” he said.

Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 8:19 pm  Comments Off on AFP chief: No ransom demand for ICRC workers  
Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: