Sulu gov joins word war over kidnapping crisis

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan on Monday joined an ongoing word war between Sen. Richard Gordon and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro over the handling of the Sulu kidnapping crisis involving two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers.

In an interview with ANC’s “News at 8”, Tan said Gordon is not coordinating with his office regarding his efforts to effect the release of Italian Eugenio Vagni and Swiss Andreas Notter. “He’s doing it on his own. He has not been telling me that he’s still talking to these people (Abu Sayyaf),” said Tan.

He added: “I really do not see any reason why the legislature should intervene or interfere in the affairs of the local government.”

Tan, head of the Sulu Crisis Management Committee, said he is directly coordinating with the offices of Secretary Teodoro and Secretary Ronaldo Puno, head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

On Sunday, Teodoro and Gordon traded barbs over the negotiations for the release of the ICRC workers still being held by the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.

According to Teodoro, Gordon’s call for a military pullout from at least five areas in the Sulu for the release of Vagni and Notter are “destructive attempts at interfering with the [Sulu] Crisis Management Committee’s work.”

Gordon, for his part, said it was “careless and unfortunate” that Teodoro finds his efforts to save the remaining hostages as destructive. Gordon is the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) chairman.

Compromise on pullout

Tan observed that Puno and Teodoro are not intervening in the affairs of the local government as far as the crisis is concerned. “They do not dictate on us on what to do,” he said.

The governor of Sulu said he would like to believe that Filipina ICRC worker Mary Jean Lacaba was released last Thursday “because of the pressure of the implementation of the state of emergency.”

“Not because of the partial pullout, because the release was made as we were putting in more troops into the area and sealing off, cordoning the area where they are suspected to be.”

Tan said authorities know the whereabouts of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group holding the two foreign hostages but declined to reveal the exact location of the two.

He also said he is open to a compromise on the proposed pullout of military troops in Sulu as earlier demanded by the Abu Sayyaf for the release of the hostages.

“I’m not agreeing to a complete pullout of these troops in these two municipalities of Indanan and Parak. Maybe we can compromise a little but not anymore as before,” he said.

“Because in the past, they were asking for the complete pullout of troops of which they did not comply… to release one hostage,” reasoned Tan.

Crackdown on Abu Sayyaf “aides”

The governor of Sulu also shared that a team of human rights personnel will arrive in Jolo on Tuesday to clear doubts about his implementation of the state of emergency over his province. Tan declared a state of emergency last Tuesday in the entire province of Sulu.

He said eight people have been brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for questioning on the suspicion that they are aiding the Abu Sayyaf. Of the eight, one civilian — a driver from Jolo — was already released.

Seven people suspected to be in cahoots with the kidnappers of three Red Cross workers in Sulu have been formally charged in court.

The police identified the suspects as SPO3 Muhilmi Ismula, a member of the Sulu Provincial Police Operations Intelligence Section, PO2 Marcial Ahajan assigned to the Indanan Municipal Police Office, SPO1 Sattal Jadjuli of Patikul PNP, Alano Mohammad who is the Barangay Captain of Kanaway, Parang town, Julhassan Awadi Barangay Chair of Sawaki, Indanan Municipality, Hadjirul Bambra and Ibnogajir Hadjirul.

The suspects are now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Zamboanga City.

Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, spokesman of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, said the suspects are believed to have given logistical support to the Abu Sayyaf Group in carrying out their kidnap plan for the ICRC workers.

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm  Comments Off on Sulu gov joins word war over kidnapping crisis  
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