Abu Sayyaf kidnapped victims appeal for help; their fates still in limbo

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Three weeks after the three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were abducted while doing humanitarian work for Sulu prisoners in Southern Philippines, they sent an appeal to the world, particularly the local authorities to work on their release. The Abu Sayyaf Islamic group with Al Qaeda ties had been holding them in an undisclosed forested location while demanding that the military with a force of about 1,000 soldiers pull out from the area.

“Please try to… deal with them, try to find a way to pull us out,” Eugenio Vagni, the 62-year-old engineer, said in an interview aired by a local radio. “We call on concerned authorities to choose to negotiate with the group, to negotiate and we hope that they will take this effort seriously,” said Swiss Andreas Notter, 38, the head of ICRC team abducted in Jolo island on Jan. 15 after a prison sanitation project inspection.—-GMA News.tv / Xinhua (02/05/09)

The initial maneuvers to secure their freedom have not worked. Italian Eugenio Vagni, Swiss Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba are reportedly treated “well,” but this doesn’t guarantee that this situation will hold until a happy end.

The public reception of the abduction is tepid; there’s practically no outrage from Filipinos and people abroad who have been numbed by banditry in this location. Military officers pin on secrecy and news black out “to protect the safety” of the abducted victims. Behind the scene however, there are those who question the competency of the government in handling the hostage situation. The US embassy in Manila has offered their help and ICRC officials mulls on how the three victims could be rescued.

The longer the abducted workers are held, the public sees clearly the brutality and evil terrorism inflicts on the world. The Abu Sayyaf militants speak of “guest treatment,” on their victims, but it won’t be long when their real motivation comes to light. Nobody will be surprised if ransom, intimidation, and physical harm become the center piece of their familiar modus operandi. (Photo Credit: JezICRCGeneva; Charlie Salceda)=0=

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