ICRC workers ‘alive’ but no proof of life

MANILA, Philippines—The three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group are alive but government has yet to ask for proof of life, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno said Wednesday.

“We have almost a very, very high certainty that they are alive,” Puno said in a phone interview, referring to hostages Eugenio Vagni, Andreas Notter, and Mary Jean Lacaba.

Puno said that they received this information from sources on the ground.

But government troops and the crisis management committee remain on their toes, Puno added.

“We take it one day at a time…pwede sila pugutan (they can be beheaded) anytime and we cannot let our guard down,” he added.

Puno said he was asking for a proof of life from the Muslim extremists to end speculations on the conditions of the three hostages.

He said the government remained hopeful there would be a peaceful resolution to the hostage crisis, despite the return of military and police forces in their positions.

Puno said that they have yet to receive word or a new demand from the Abu Sayyaf group, but he added that the group is sending “feelers” to Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan on “a new formula on how to come up with a peaceful solution [on the incident].”

“The military has so far not received any report on the beheading of any of the kidnap victims although we are still looking for any proof of life through reports from other agencies,” said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, hostage crisis spokesperson based in Jolo, in a statement sent to reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the proclamation of the state of emergency in Sulu, negotiations for the safe release of the three aid workers have been going on between the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, he said.

Abigail Kwok, INQUIRER.net

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Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 5:14 pm  Comments Off on ICRC workers ‘alive’ but no proof of life  
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