Sulu gov stops talking to ICRC captors

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said on Sunday that he had stopped personally talking to the Abu Sayyaf for the release of two more Red Cross workers although his emissaries have been continuing negotiations with the group.

But at the same time, Tan said he was not losing hope that Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni would be freed soon, as what the Abu Sayyaf did to Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba.

The three workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited the Sulu provincial jail on January 15 to check on a water sanitation project, and were on their way to the airport of this city when they were kidnapped.

“I am still hopeful, andun pa rin yung pag-asa na mapapalaya sila anumang araw (my hope for their safe release any day soon remains),” Tan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

But Tan admitted that the Abu Sayyaf maintained its demand for the dismantling of the cordon set up by troops even as the government rejected this.

“The demand for pull-out of troops, yun lang ang parati nilang hinihingi (that’s all they ask for everytime) and I am not giving in to their demand,” he said.

Instead of giving in to the demand of the Abu Sayyaf, Tan said they have been tightening the cordon.

“The cordon stays and its tighter now,” he said.

Tan said the decision was with the kidnappers.

“It depends on them now if they want to release the victims,” he said.

Tan said the situation remained tense in Indanan as the victims remained in the hands of the bandit group, as of Sunday.

“It is like a waiting game, hintayan and sometimes patigasan (it’s waiting and attrition),” he said.

Tan said the Abu Sayyaf really had no clear demands and that was why he decided not to personally talk to them anymore.

“I don’t talk to people who do not really know what they really want,” he said, referring to the Abu Sayyaf.

He said the Abu Sayyaf’s demands have been unclear for three months now.

“My advise to these kidnappers is that they better think well, sit down and discuss among themselves what are their demands. If they don’t have any valid reasons except this endless call for troop pull-out, ay better i-release na lang nila ang mga hostages, wala silang maaasahan sa amin (they should just release the hostages because they won’t get anything from us),” Tan said.

Sulu Vice Governor Nur Anna Sahidulla said the Abu Sayyaf would be willing to negotiate for the release of Notter and Vagni.

But she said the bandit group emphasized that negotiations could only take place after the government troop pullout from Indanan, Sulu.

“Wala namang ibang demand na hinihingi, gusto lang nila umatras ang mga tropa (They do not have any other demand. They just want the government troops to retreat),” Sahidulla said.

Julie Alipala
Inquirer Mindanao

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Published in: on April 12, 2009 at 5:13 pm  Comments Off on Sulu gov stops talking to ICRC captors  
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