‘Why is gov’t risking our lives?’

MANILA, Philippines—Mary Jean Lacaba has a lot to say on the eve of an expected execution.

She expressed fear, sadness, anger and confusion in a phone interview on Monday, past 9 p.m.

The 37-year-old engineer of the International Committee of the Red Cross could not even say who among the three ICRC workers would be beheaded.

The Abu Sayyaf earlier said that one of the hostages would be killed at 2 p.m. Tuesday if the government did not comply with a demand for a total troop withdrawal from Jolo Island in Sulu province.

Monday was the 75th day of Mary Jean’s captivity. Mary Jean, Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni were kidnapped while en route to the Jolo airport after looking at conditions in the municipal jail.

The voice on the other line trembled, her tone a pitch higher than her usual calm voice in her earlier interviews aired by media.

She said time was running out.

“Maybe one of us will be gone soon,” Mary Jean said in Filipino. “Do we have a chance or not?”

She said their hands and feet had been tied as early as 5 p.m. Monday.

The leader of the kidnappers, Albadar Parad, said the hostages had refused to eat.

The dinner of rice and fish had been left untouched. Parad said on the phone that this was a sign the hostages were accepting their fate.

“We could not understand why the government was risking our lives,” Mary Jean said.

Does President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo really know what the situation is in Sulu, she asked. Doesn’t she know what’s happening here? Why hasn’t she or her people acted?

She did not only have a mouthful to say about the President. She also had something to say about the courage of the media.

Mary Jean said she had heard the news reports over radio about the military withdrawal, but lamented that there was no media representative there.

“If you are here, you would know what’s happening to us. If you are afraid to come here, what about us?”

She said she thought that if the government gave in to the demand for a military withdrawal, probably the hostages would be freed.

Mary Jean said she and other hostages were extremely disappointed. She said they appreciated the expressions of help and the prayers but added that “actions are different from mere words.”

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Parad resumed answering text messages, but evaded saying anything about the hostages.

Arlyn dela Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 3:01 am  Comments Off on ‘Why is gov’t risking our lives?’  
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