PNRC rejects P50-M ransom demand for ICRC workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Red Cross rejected anew Thursday a reported P50-million ransom demand for the release of three abducted workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

PNRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon also belied reports the Abu Sayyaf had put Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba in separate hideouts.

“Di naman kayo makakuha na ransom sa amin wala kaming ibibigay na ransom kahit anong mangyari. Ang gusto ko… pagkatapos nito wala kaming binayarang ransom dahil gusto pa naming magtrabaho riyan at tulungan ang kamaganak at kasama nila. Hindi kami makatrabaho pag may threat na pwede kaming kidnapin uli at hingan ng ransom that’s why di kami magbabayad ng ransom),” Gordon said in an interview on dzXL radio.

[I had been telling the kidnappers they cannot get any ransom from us because we are not going to give it. I want this to end without ransom paid because the Red Cross wants to continue working here and helping even the kidnappers’ relatives. And we cannot work under a constant threat of possible abduction again.]

Earlier reports quoted Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema as saying the that Abu Sayyaf was demanding P50 million ransom for the release of the ICRC workers, who were kidnapped in Sulu on Jan. 15.

On the other hand, Gordon said they were in contact with the hostages as recently as Wednesday, and that the three victims were together.

He also said that in his personal conversations with the Abu Sayyaf, the only demand they had relayed to him so far was the withdrawal of government troops from the area.

“Wala kaming nakukuhang balitang ganyan nanghihingi ng pera sila. Nakausap ko sila kahapon, nakausap namin ang tatlong hostages na ginagawang bihag, OK sila, magkakasama sila [We have not received any report of a ransom demand. We talked to the hostages Wednesday and they seemed okay and they were together],” he said.

Gordon also said the Red Cross will not interfere with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on whether to lift the cordon around the area.

For his part, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. questioned Mayor Sema’s repeated relaying of the supposed P50-million ransom demand.

“Unang una ang reaksyon ko wala akong natatanggap na balita na may demand na ganyan. Pangalawa, bakit nasabi nina mayor yan? At ano ang recommendation nila? Palagay ko ang pagiging matatag at di pagbayad ng ransom at paghanap ng ibang paraan na pagkumbinsi na mali ang ginawa nila, yan ang pinakamagandang paraan sa crisis management committee [First, I am not aware of any such demand. Second, why did the mayor mention the ransom, and what is their recommendation? I think we have to remain steadfast against paying ransom and find other ways to convince the kidnappers that what they did was wrong],” Teodoro said in a separate interview on dzXL.

Teodoro also said the AFP continues to close in on the kidnappers.

Meanwhile, in Malacañang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde maintained the Palace’s policy of leaving everything to the local crisis management committee.

“We stick to our policy of leaving this matter to the local crisis management committee, which we feel is the body that knows best how to deal with this situation,” he said in another radio interview.

But Remonde also said the crisis committee is handling many developments, “but we cannot reveal these in public right now, for the safety of the hostages and for national security reasons.” – GMANews.TV

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 8:21 pm  Comments Off on PNRC rejects P50-M ransom demand for ICRC workers  
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