Govt hushes up on moves to rescue 2 remaining Red Cross hostages

MANILA, Philippines — The government on Saturday assured that it is doing “everything” to rescue two workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who the Abu Sayyaf had threatened to kill.

But Press Secretary Cerge Remonde refused to discuss details of the strategy that he said involved “security operations,” and merely asked for “prayers” and “support” from the people.

“Well, ah, patuloy ang pagsisikap ng ating gobyerno na the two hostages can be, ah, freed as safely and, ah, tayo, ah, ah, magdasal at mananawagan sa mga concerned na sana ay, ah, we will be able to achieve this objective [Government is working on releasing the two hostages safely and we ask for prayers and support for us to achieve this objective]” he said on government-run dzRB radio.

Remonde would only say the government is leaving much of the work to the local crisis management committee under Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan and Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidulla.

“Hindi natin pwedeng i-reveal ang operational details of security operations [We cannot reveal the operational details of our security operations],” he added.

On the other hand, he refused to say if the government will adopt an “all-out war” stance once the two remaining hostages are freed.

“We will leave that tactical decision to the local crisis management committee and of course to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

But he said the government will surely develop Mindanao to prevent further abductions.

“We are glad we have a lot of foreign partners willing to help us develop Mindanao and general and Sulu in particular,” he said.

Abu Sayyaf bandits released Thursday night ICRC worker Mary Jean Lacaba but still held on to Andreas Notter and Eugenio Vagni. The Abu Sayyaf abducted the three in Sulu last Jan. 15.

On the other hand, Remonde refused to say what the Abu Sayyaf is demanding, amid local officials’ insistence that the Abu Sayyaf did not seek ransom for the ICRC workers’ release.

“We are leaving the details of the negotiation to the local crisis management committee and with Secretaries (Ronaldo) Puno (interior) and (Gilberto Jr.) Teodoro (defense),” he would only say.

Meanwhile, Remonde backed the move of the government to investigate some police and local executives suspected of helping the Abu Sayyaf.

He said this is “within their operational and tactical authority to determine and do what is fit under the circumstances.”

Meanwhile, Remonde assured teachers the government is not neglecting the plight of schoolteachers kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf earlier this year.

He said the government is giving them “equal attention,” and that the abduction of the ICRC workers happened to be “sensational.”

“Medyo sensational ang involving international rescue workers kaya doon nakatuon ang attention ng media (The ICRC workers’ case was more sensational so media attention was diverted there),” he said.


Published in: on April 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Comments Off on Govt hushes up on moves to rescue 2 remaining Red Cross hostages  
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