Wife of Italian ICRC worker appeals to abductors

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since her husband was seized in Sulu 77 days ago, the wife of Italian Eugenio Vagni issued a public appeal to the Abu Sayyaf to release all three Red Cross being held captive in Sulu.

“I would like to appeal to the kidnappers holding Eugenio Vagni, Andreas Notter and Mary Jaean to please release, to lead them back to their families,” Eugenio’s wife Kwana said in an exclusive report aired by GMA News’ Unang Hirit early Wednesday morning.

Kwana said she was not only worried for her 62-year-old husband but also for their one-year-old daughter, Leticia.

On January 15, the three humanitarian workers were plucked by a group of armed men from out of a group ICRC workers that had just carried out a prison water and sanitation project in Patikul town, also in Sulu.

The bandit group claimed it abducted the ICRC workers not for money but to get the attention of the government about the conditions of Muslims in southern Philippines.

With no official negotiation being set in motion, the abduction has already dragged on for more than two months, with the Abu Sayyaf issuing three demands so far involving military pullouts.

The government heeded the demand and conducted a limited pullout that involved: the return of Marines to their barracks and the pullout of some 800 auxiliary policemen and civil emergency forces from the cordoned area.

But the Abu Sayyaf bandits were not contented and threatened to behead one of the hostages unless the government ordered for a complete pullout of its forces from several towns in Sulu.

The 2 p.m. Tuesday deadline set by the captors for a total military pullout expired and communication with the Abu Sayyaf was cut off.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan later in the night assured that the beheading did not push through and that all three hostages were alive.

However, Sen. Richard Gordon said he wanted the Abu Sayyaf to show a “proof of life” of the ICRC workers adding that “confidence has to be rebuilt” after the deadline for the beheading expired.

Gordon – chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross – earlier revealed that the government was almost on the verge of rescuing one of the hostages had the military carried on with a total pullout.

Gordon said that Rep. Yusop Jikiri – who had been pitched in along with Rep. Mujiv Hataman to talk with the bandits – was already about to climb up the Abu Sayyaf lair to fetch one of the ICRC workers. The bandit group however refused last minute because no total pullout happened.


Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am  Comments Off on Wife of Italian ICRC worker appeals to abductors  
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