Misuari: Red Cross rescue status ‘haywire’

The attempt to secure the release of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has gone “haywire,” according to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari.

Misuari said on Friday that negotiations for the release of the three ICRC workers in Sulu have reached a quandary after the military allegedly bungled the rescue operations.

Misuari said the government could have freed the three hostages had the military repositioned its troops and cleared the way for rebels to finalize arrangements for the victims’ release.

“You don’t know where they [hostages and ASG] are now. You don’t know what is the next thing that can happen dahil sa nagkabulabog na doon,” he said in an interview on ABS-CBN’s Top Story.

No dent

Misuari said he felt like he had not made “any dent in the problem” after repeatedly flying to Silangkan, Sulu in order to help in the negotiations.

He said he was not able to establish any direct contact with the MILF, communicating with them only through trusted middlemen. He also said he was forbidden by the MILF to personally meet with them.

Misuari met with Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno Jr. Friday to discuss the ongoing kidnap negotiations and determine the next step in the rescue of ICRC workers Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, Swiss Andreas Notter, and Italian Eugenio Vagni, who were abducted in Jolo, Sulu last January 15.

“If we make a mistake in our actions, if there is a disastrous encounter, they [the Abu Sayyaf] will kill the hostages. I really believe that,” he warned.

“I was telling [the military] that if there is an unnecessary delay, well, you know these young men (the group of ASG sub-commander Albader Parad), their minds are volatile, maybe they will change their mind and lose their trust in me because they give the appearance that the government and the military do not trust Nur Misuari. This will be very, very dangerous because they will prolong the agony of these [hostages] in the mountains,” Misuari added.

Gordon vs Sabban

Earlier, Joint Task Force Comet Commander Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban and Gordon knocked horns over whether to pull back troops and stop military offensives in order to commence peaceful negotiations with the rebels.

Fierce clashes between the ASG and military, which began Monday, left three soldiers dead and 22 others injured in Indanan, Sulu. Concerns were also aired that the gunfights could put the hostages’ lives at risk.

In a closed-door meeting Thursday among Sen. Richard Gordon, Puno, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr., and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Alexander Yano and other officials, a decision was made to reposition troops in exchange for the release of one of the hostages.

According to Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, however, the military is ready to reposition forces in order to allow peaceful means to resolve the kidnapping situation.

“This is the wisest move on the part of the government, on the part of the Armed Forces, and I salute them for taking these steps,” Misuari said.


Published in: on March 20, 2009 at 9:35 pm  Comments Off on Misuari: Red Cross rescue status ‘haywire’  
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