2 Red Cross workers may be freed this week, Sulu gov says

MANILA, Philippines – Abu Sayyaf bandits may release this week the two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers they have been holding captive for almost three months, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said Tuesday.

A report over QTV’s Balitanghali quoted Tan as saying that the bandits appear to have softened after they released Filipina Red Cross worker Mary Jean Lacaba on April 2.

Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni still remain captive. The two, along with Lacaba, were abducted January 15 after inspecting a water sanitation project in a Sulu jail.

Tan said he sensed that the bandit group has somewhat mellowed down after his conversations with Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad Saturday afternoon and with two of the bandits’ emissaries last Monday.

The bandits had earlier threatened to behead the hostages if government troops refused to pull out from a number of villages in Sulu.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said he is amenable to partially pulling out government troops stationed in Indanan and Parang towns, but maintained that the troops cannot leave military camps and outposts.

Earlier during the day, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said he suspects that the Abu Sayyaf are now desperate to find their way out of the mess following the government’s arrest and filing of charges against seven people believed to have aided the abduction.

Police on Monday charged three policemen, two village chiefs, and two suspected Abu Sayyaf members with kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention of the three Red Cross volunteers.

According to Western Mindanao Police spokesman Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, all the accused are linked to Abu Sayyaf leaders either by blood or by marriage.

SPO3 Muhilmi Ismula of the Sulu Provincial Police Operations Intelligence Section is believed to be Parad’s nephew, while the wife of PO2 Marcial Ahajan of the Indanan Municipal Police Office is said to be a relative of a slain Abu Sayyaf commander.

The rest of the accused are as follows: SPO1 Sattal Jadjuli of Patikul Municipal Police Station; Alano Mohammad, village chief of Kanaway in Parang town in Sulu; Julhassan Awadi, village chief of Sawaki in Indanan town in Sulu; Hadjirul Bambra, suspected Abu Sayyaf member; and Ibnogajir Hadjirul, another suspected Abu Sayyaf member.

Aside from the arrest of the seven accused, Puno said the return of government troops around the Abu Sayyaf’s stronghold, following the declaration of a state of emergency over Sulu province last March 31, is also probably making the bandits very anxious to find an escape route.

Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV

Published in: on April 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm  Comments Off on 2 Red Cross workers may be freed this week, Sulu gov says  
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