Archive for the ‘Jolo’ Category

Life on a balance: hostages can’t rely on the government for help?

April 1, 2009

For more than two months , Filipinos were asked to wait for the rescue of the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers, but it appears nothing tangible has come out of the attempts to free the hostages

Ramon Casiple, director of the Institute for Political and Economic Reform says the government is handling the hostage crisis badly. He speaks of “bumbling” and the lack of cohesive plan to rescue the hostages that even the military admits.

“A disgusted Marines officer hit the government for its alleged weakness in handling the hostage crisis and choosing negotiations over the military option. He said the military stands to get the blame if something bad happens to the hostages.”—Malaya (04/02/09, Reyes, V)

After a skirmish that claimed the life of 3 soldiers and wounded 19 more, the rescue of Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, Swiss Andreas Notter, and Italian Eugenio Vagni from the hideous Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf bandits have met a perilous impasse. No reliable word about their fates are known after the deadline on Tuesday, March 31, 2009. The Abu Sayyaf extremists’ demand that government military personnel leave the area has not been met.

Now, it is a fearful wait and see. Filipinos are told the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers are cordoning the forest where the hostages and their kidnappers are holed. Is it a preparation to attack the Abu Sayyaf’s position and free the hostages?

Those who know what transpired in the deaths of hostages Guillermo Sobero, Deborah Yap, and Martin Burnham can only hope for the best. The innocent humanitarian ICRC workers don’t merit the inhuman treatment from Abu Sayyaf. So too are the unnamed captives who languish in the bandit’s lair. The government rescue plan, branded as inutile, must do better to save them. (Photo Credit: Charlie Saceda x 2) =0=

UPDATE: Apri 2, 2009 reports suggest that the kidnappers have abandoned their position and splintered into groups in anticipation for a rescue operation. The condition of the three ICRC kidnapped victims are so far unknown.

RELATED BLOGS: “Abu Sayyaf extremists warn of beheading ICRC captives” Posted by mesiamd at 3/31/2009; “Hostage takers now demand $10 million ransom” Posted by mesiamd at 2/09/2009


Abu Sayyaf extremists warn of beheading ICRC captives

March 30, 2009

After two months of holding the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers in the mountains of Jolo, Sulu, the kidnappers headed by Albader Parad of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group demanded that military, police and civilian forces must leave 15 barangays in five towns in Sulu within 24 hours. The new demand came after three military men died and 19 others were wounded last week in a skirmish between government forces and members of the Islamic extremists.

There are fresh worries that Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba—-the three humanitarian workers snatched by the kidnappers, last January 15, 2009 in Mindanao will be harmed or killed. According to Sulu vice gov. Lady Ann Sahidulla, one of the negotiators said the terrorist group is serious in its threat to decapitate one of the hostages.

The appeal of the ICRC to spare and free the hostages have fallen in deaf ears. With little that it can do, government forces are weighing in on how to resolve the hostage situation which drags on, putting the hostages’ fate in greater danger.

The Abu Sayyaf has a disdainful history of beheading its innocent victims as in case of Peruvian-American Guillermo Sobero who was snatched together with 20 others in a Palawan resort before being killed 8 years ago.

Martin Burnham, a missionary died under Abu Sayyaf hands in a deadly shootout after being held in captivity for more than a year with his wife Gracia. In the past, this violent Islamic group with Al Qaeda ties is known to seek ransom that runs in millions. (Photo Credit: Charlie Saceda) =0=

Pope Appeals for the release of hostages

On March 31, 2009, the Vatican issued an appeal from Pope Benedict to set free the innocent ICRC hostages. The pontiff calls for “humanitarian sensibililty and reason to prevail over violence and intimidation.” His message was sent by the Holy See as the 2 P. M. deadline to comply with the kidnappers’ demand that the military and police pull back from Jolo draws near.


Abu Sayyaf kidnappers asks for P50 million ransom for ICRC workers

March 12, 2009

The notorious terror group Abu Sayyaf has finally demanded P50 million ransom as a condition to release the three humanitarian workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC.) This is according to Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema.

Many did not believe the earlier denials that all the Mindanao extremists wanted was for the military to pull out from their area of operation. As in the past, the public expects this group to ask for ransom. Two months after Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba were abducted and held hostage in the hinterlands of Jolo, Sulu, the terror group has finally been reported to be asking for ransom which the ICRC rejected.

The reason for the rejection is clear. It rewards acts of banditry. It encourages more kidnappings. Leaving the problem’s resolution to the local crisis negotiators, the government has three options—-ignore the demand and not to do anything, forcibly rescue the hostages, or pay the ransom. (Photo Credit: AFP/ ICRC file) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Three kidnapped Red Cross workers still missing in Mindanao” Posted by mesiamd at 1/21/2009


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

February 5, 2009

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 / 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=