Tension grips Sulu as deadline ends

MANILA, Philippines — Tension grips the entire province of Sulu as the deadline set by Islamist militant Abu Sayyaf group to behead one of the three hostages lapsed.

Gwen Pang, Philippine National Red Cross secretary general, described the atmosphere in the province as “very tense,” as civilians are also bracing for developments on the lives of Italian Eugenio Vagni, Swiss Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba—all workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The three were kidnapped on Jan. 15 after they had just checked on a water sanitation project inside the Sulu provincial jail.

As the 2 p.m. deadline lapsed, Pang said they have not received any report from the Abu Sayyaf group.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) has also lost contact with the group holding the three workers, Pang said.

She added that they spoke with Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro early Tuesday and the he stressed that the government would not be heeding to the demand of the Muslim extremists to withdraw troops.

“We still continue to hope and pray and I appeal to the kidnappers to release (the three). We continue to do our services in Jolo,” Pang said in an interview.

Richard Gordon, chairman of the PNRC, clung to hope on Tuesday that the Abu Sayyaf would not behead one of the three workers.

In a press conference at the PNRC headquarters in Manila, Gordon said, “I hope … I have faith that we will end with life.”

He reminded the Abu Sayyaf bandits that the Red Cross would not halt its humanitarian work in Sulu even if they made good on their threat.

“Baka akala niyo pag pinatay niyo yan titigil na ang Red Cross. Nagkakamali kayo (You may be thinking that Red Cross will stop if you kill the three. You’re wrong),” he said. “We must continue.”

Abigail Kwok, INQUIRER.net
Michael Lim Ubac, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 4:18 pm  Comments Off on Tension grips Sulu as deadline ends  
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