No ransom on releases of 2 Red Cross workers

MANILA, Philippines—No ransom was paid for the release of the two volunteer workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who were held hostage by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf groups, a military official said Wednesday.

“In order to allay speculations about ransom, I would like to emphasize here that as far as we know, no ransom nor board and lodging fee was paid for the release of both Miss [Mary Jean] Lacaba and Mr. [Andreas] Notter,” said Civil Relations Service Brigadier General Gaudencio Pangilinan.

“We in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) shall appreciate any information from anyone who can give explicit information regarding any ransom payment,” he added.

Lacaba, a Filipina, and Notter, a Swiss national, were released April 2 and April 18, respectively after three months of being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu.

Italian Eugenio Vagni remains in the hands of the kidnappers and is reportedly experiencing hernia and high blood pressure, the military said earlier.

“Mr. Notter on his own account managed to get away from the kidnappers as a result of unrelenting pressure from the AFP, PNP, and the citizens of Sulu,” Pangilinan said.

He added that deployment of military and police forces, including Civilian Emergency Forces, is concentrated at preventing the kidnappers from reaching Patikul, Sulu.

Nevertheless, Pangilinan said that authorities are doing everything to help secure the release of Vagni.

“Right now the ulamas (Muslim scholars) of Sulu are keeping the lines for negotiation open. The safe recovery of Mr. Vagni remains top priority for our law enforcers,” Pangilinan said.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, head of the multi-agency task force tasked to facilitate efforts to rescue the ICRC hostages, enlisted the help of ulamas last week, days before Notter was released.

The ICRC victims were kidnapped in Sulu last Jan 15 after conducting a water treatment project for the provincial jail.

Katherine Evangelista
INQUIRER.net

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Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm  Comments Off on No ransom on releases of 2 Red Cross workers  
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