Abu won’t extend pullout deadline—vice gov

MANILA, Philippines – The abductors of three Red Cross workers will no longer extend the deadline set for troops to pull out of Sulu, saying they will behead one of three hostages by Tuesday morning, a provincial official said Monday.

“Walang pagbabago, walang extension, pag hindi pa mag-pullout [There are no changes, no extension, if they do not pullout]… baka bukas ng umaga pupugutan na… [by tomorrow morning they will behead one victim],” said Sulu vice governor Lady Ann Sahidulla, who went last month to the hideout of the suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group to check on the status of the three hostages.

The abductors are not bluffing in their threat to behead one hostage, Sahidulla said.

“Sa tingin ko, kasi sanay ‘yang mga ‘yan e, parang wala lang sa kanila ang buhay [I think they are used to this, they no longer value life],” Sahidulla said.

She said kidnappers have not identified who among the three hostages they would behead if the military would fail to accede to their demand.

However, Sahidulla clarified that the Abductors did not ask for a total pullout of the military from the province but merely a pull-out from the towns of Indanan, Patikul, Parang, Maimbung, and Talipao.

“Hindi naman totally pullout lahat ano, hindi naman ‘yun pwede, sobra ‘yun, pasensya na lang talaga [it was not a total pullout, it cannot be allowed, that’s too much, I’m sorry to say],” Sahidulla said.

Sahidulla also denied that the Abu Sayyaf has rejected the agreement to release a hostage once the military has vacated these towns.

“Pag nakita nila [kidnappers] na wala nang military, sila na mismo ang magche-check, sila din ang tatawag kaagad na i-release nila ang isa, tatawag sila kay Governor [Sakur Tan]… actually may schedule na ngayon, na anytime tatawag kaya lang hindi pa totally nag-pullout ang military [If they see that there are no more troops in the area, they will check, and they will immediately release one hostage, they will call the Governor… actually, there is now a schedule that anytime they will call but the military has not totally pulled-out], ” Sahidulla said.

Governor Sakur Tan, who heads the Task Force ICRC, the multi-agency body tasked to facilitate the release of Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipina Jean Lacaba, has direct communication with the kidnappers, Sahidulla said.

When asked whether she believed that the Abu Sayyaf group would free one hostage despite reneging on its promise to Senator Richard Gordon, Philippine National Red Cross chairman, two weeks ago, Sahidulla said: “Sa tingin ko, positive talaga, kasi gusto nilang ipapakita talaga nila na totoo talaga yung sinasabi nila [I think it’s positive. They really want to show that what they’re saying is real].”

Meanwhile, Sahidulla guaranteed that the three hostages were still together despite reports that they were divided among the sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Magkasama talaga sila, hindi sila pinapaghiwahiwalay at saka okay din naman sila kaya lang siyempre pumayat ng kaunti ganun [They are together, they were not separated and they are okay although they lost some weight]… pero sa tingin ko e okay naman ang health nila at hindi siguro paghiwahiwalayan, hindi tayo sigurado kasi hindi natin nakita e pero yun ang sabi nila [But I think their health is ok and they were probably not separated, we are not sure since we did not see it but that’s what the kidnappers claim],” Sahidulla said.

Katherine Evangelista, INQUIRER.net

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Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 7:02 pm  Comments Off on Abu won’t extend pullout deadline—vice gov  
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