Gordon: Still no proof of life

Sen. Richard Gordon, Philippine National Red Cross chairman, on Wednesday morning said he has not received proof from the Abu Sayyaf that the three kidnapped humanitarian workers are still alive.

“Wala akong proof of life hanggang sa ngayon. Meron lang ako text messages (I have not received any proof of life. I only have text messages),” Gordon told ABS-CBN’s morning show, “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

Gordon said the three kidnapped members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) asked him about the developments in the negotiations for their release.

He said the military has firmly dismissed the Abu Sayyaf’s demand for a total pullout, but he said he had promised Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba to talk again with the military and the hostage takers.

The senator said before, the ICRC workers or Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Albader Parad would send him a text message and then he would make the call, but as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, he has not talked with the three hostages or the Abu Sayyaf leader.

Parad had threatened to behead one of the hostages at 2 p.m. on Tuesday if the military refused to pullout from three towns in Sulu.

Still alive

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said Tuesday evening that no beheading took place hours after the Abu Sayyaf’s 2 p.m. deadline.

Tan’s statement is consistent with reports received by ABS-CBN News and abs-cbnNEWS.com from military sources that the hostages are alive.

A senior military official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that all three hostages were believed to be alive despite the expiry of the deadline, based on reports from the field.

ICRC-Manila spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk said they have not been able to determine if these reports are true.

“We have no information from the ground and we have no way confirming if what Governor Tan said is true. We hope the worst hasn’t happened yet and will not happen. We continue to appeal to the Abu Sayyaf to spare our workers,” she said.

No ransom

Gordon said he had insisted up to the last time that he talked with Parad, that the Red Cross can only help the Abu Sayyaf with their complaints against the government. He said he made it clear with Parad that the humanitarian organization cannot pay any ransom for the hostages’ release.

Tan, who placed the entire Sulu province under a state of emergency, said the Crisis Management Team as well as other government units are undertaking actions to resolve the crisis situation.

“Maraming kilos ang ginagawa natin. Hindi maintindihan kung ano ba ang gusto [ng Abu Sayyaf]… so marami tayong ginagawa,” he said in an interview on TV Patrol.

The governor, however, refused to disclose what steps authorities were taking.

Tan also said that the government will stick to its “no ransom policy” against the rebels, adding that the only option for the ASG is to release the hostages.

“Ayaw namin magbigay ng ransom dahil pag pagbigyan namin yan, walang katapusan ang pamimigay at paghihingi ng mga bandido. Wala silang makukuha na kabutihan kundi irelease nila ang mga bihag,” he said.

The three ICRC workers were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf near the provincial capitol of Sulu in Patikul town last January 15.

The Abu Sayyaf, a small but deadly militant group based on Jolo and the nearby island of Basilan, has been blamed for the worst militant attack in the Philippines, the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that killed 100 people.

It is also notorious for high-profile kidnapping and large ransoms.

The Abu Sayyaf also has a history of beheading captives.

In 2001, American Guillermo Sobero was executed after the government turned down attempts by the rebels to negotiate for hostages on Basilan.


Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 8:45 am  Comments Off on Gordon: Still no proof of life  
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