No gov’t execs in negotiations with abductors

MANILA, Philippines– No other individuals, except government authorities, should be allowed to talk or negotiate with the kidnappers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers, two lawmakers said Monday.

Supporting the earlier suggestion of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Rodolfo Biazon agreed that the military should handle the hostage crisis.

“Hayaan na natin na dumiskarte ang ating DND (Department of National Defense) at AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) sa on going hostage crisis [Let the DND and the AFP handle the hostage crisis],” said Senator Pangilinan.

“Mahirap kung masyadong maraming nagmamando. Kung baga sa sasakyan, kung masyadong maraming nagmamaneho o nais magmaneho eh maaring disgrasya ang maging resulta [It would be hard if there were more handling the situation. It’s like driving. If everybody wants to steer the wheel, then accidents happen],” he said.

Senator Biazon, for his part, said all information or announcements regarding the two foreign Red Cross workers who were still under the custody of the Abu Sayyaf group, should come from duly-constituted authority.

“I’m not removing the concerns of Senator (Richard) Gordon because he is the chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross. But I think it will be better if his contacts are processed by the crisis management committee for decision, options to be selected and announcements to the public,” Biazon said in a phone interview.

The Senator refused to give further comments on Gordon’s involvement on the hostage crisis, saying that more controversies arising from that issue would only strengthen the position of the Abu Sayyaf.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, however, believed that as PNRC chairman, Gordon has a right to intervene for and in behalf of his volunteers “in order to protect and save their lives—if only to avoid or temper any potential cavalier approach by the military.”

“I think Sen. Gordon has been careful in issuing statements to the public. But in so far as inputs to be given in their closed-door meetings within the framework of the crisis committee, I think he has every right to make known his position and perspective in the interest of his volunteers,” Escudero said.

In a statement, Gordon stressed the importance of keeping communications line open to ensure the safe release of the two remaining hostages.

“At this point, talk is a lifeline in this extremely dangerous situation,” he said, “This is not a location shoot for a movie. There is no take two if things do not turn out right.”

He said it would be a great loss for the country if the Abu Sayyaf would carry out their threat to behead one of the remaining hostages.

“If the hostages are harmed, the door to life will be closed. The Red Cross and humanity will lose. But the loss could be even greater for our nation. Mark my word,” he added.

Maila Ager, INQUIRER.net

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Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 2:53 pm  Comments Off on No gov’t execs in negotiations with abductors  
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