Crisis body waits for Sayyaf call as countdown begins

MANILA, Philippines – With only 24 hours left, the crisis management committee has admitted it can only wait for a phone call from the Abu Sayyaf group on whether it will release three International Committee of the Red Cross workers it abducted last January 15.

Sulu Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidula said they can only wait for the bandits to “verify” the pullout of government troops from Indanan town in Sulu.

“Pag totally makita nila na pulled out na, sila mismo tatawag. Mache-check nila at ire-release nila. Sila ang tatawag [If they see the troops had been pulled out from the area, they will call us. They can verify, then they should release the hostages. They will be the ones to call),” Sahidula said in an interview on dzXL radio.

But when asked if she believes the claim of the Abu Sayyaf that it will call her, she admitted there is not much choice but to wait for their call.

Earlier reports said the Abu Sayyaf rejected the pullout of government troops in exchange for the release of three ICRC workers abducted in Sulu last Jan. 15.

“Wala tayong magawa kundi makinig na lang, manalangin na lang kung tutupad sila sa pangako nila malalaman natin sa araw na ito [We cannot do anything else except wait for their call to see if they keep their end of the bargain],” Sahidulla said.

For his part, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said he is keeping his hands off the matter, saying he already made clear his stance against negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf.

“Ako naman na-express ko na sa publiko ang aking sentiment diyan pero ayoko makaabala. Pabayaan natin matapos ang deadline na sinasabi at tawagin ninyo ako pagkatapos [I have expressed publicly my sentiment about it. But I do not want to get in the way. Let us wait for the deadline to pass, then you can ask me again],” he said in a separate interview on dzXL.

He said he will reiterate his recommendation that foreigners who insist on going to Sulu without military escorts should be made to sign a waiver.

“Kung ganyan ayaw nila pakialaman natin e di bahala sila sa buhay nila [If they don’t want to be escorted and secured, they will be on their own],” he said.


Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm  Comments Off on Crisis body waits for Sayyaf call as countdown begins  
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