Archive for the ‘Mindanao’ Category

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.

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Fighting between government troops versus Abu Sayyaf kidnappers brings 6 dead

March 17, 2009

After unsuccessful negotiations to free the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC,) humanitarian workers who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, Philippines, a firefight erupted between the rebels and government forces bringing death to at least 3 kidnappers and 3 military men and hurting at least 19 soldiers. Albader Parad, the leader of the notorious kidnappers with links to Al-Qaeda was suspected to have been wounded in the gunfight.

The bloody encountry was sparked by armed Abu Sayyaf bandits who tried to cross the cordon set in the area by government forces.

Airing concern that the hostages— Swiss Andreas Notter, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Italian Eugenio Vagni must not be harmed, the head of ICRC Southeast Asia-Pacific operations Alain Aeschlimann said, “”Their safety is paramount. We repeat our call that no action should be taken that could put (their lives) in danger,”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/17/09, Gomez, J)

The kidnapped victims have been held since January 2009 by the Islamic extremists who seek the withdrawal of government troops from the area and insinuate on a payment of P50 million ransom. =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Abu Sayyaf kidnappers asks for P50 milllion ransom for ICRC workers” Posted by mesiamd at 3/12/2009

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Fighting between government troops versus Abu Sayyaf kidnappers brings 6 dead

March 17, 2009

After unsuccessful negotiations to free the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC,) humanitarian workers who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, Philippines, a firefight erupted between the rebels and government forces bringing death to at least 3 kidnappers and 3 military men and hurting at least 19 soldiers. Albader Parad, the leader of the notorious kidnappers with links to Al-Qaeda was suspected to have been wounded in the gunfight.

The bloody encountry was sparked by armed Abu Sayyaf bandits who tried to cross the cordon set in the area by government forces.

Airing concern that the hostages— Swiss Andreas Notter, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Italian Eugenio Vagni must not be harmed, the head of ICRC Southeast Asia-Pacific operations Alain Aeschlimann said, “”Their safety is paramount. We repeat our call that no action should be taken that could put (their lives) in danger,”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/17/09, Gomez, J)

The kidnapped victims have been held since January 2009 by the Islamic extremists who seek the withdrawal of government troops from the area and insinuate on a payment of P50 million ransom. =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Abu Sayyaf kidnappers asks for P50 milllion ransom for ICRC workers” Posted by mesiamd at 3/12/2009

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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

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After a protracted news blackout, an announcement that the Army is ready to storm the kidnappers’ lair?

March 2, 2009

Since the three (3) International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian workers where snatched in Jolo, Sulu by Muslim extremists, the Philippine military was clear in saying they were keeping a news black out to ensure that the kidnapped victims would not be harmed. Government officials thought of the safety of the abducted workers on the hands of their captors.

They made the people understand the delicate balance they had to do in securing the freedom of the abducted civilians. Undoubtedly, the victims’ families and the ICRC officials understood the wisdom of keeping quiet. Giving ransom wasn’t part of the plan.

The ICRC staff — Andreas Notter of Switzerland, Eugenio Vagni of Italy and Filipina Mary-Jean Lacaba — were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf extremists on January 15… Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres on Monday said the kidnappers had not made any “clear demands” although previous Abu Sayyaf kidnappings involved millions of dollars in ransom. “We are keeping the pressure in the area but we have not yet conducted an actual rescue,” Torres told reporters. “Our troops are there but there has not been any assault. They are on standby.”—-Inquirer/AFP (03/02/09)

After more than a month of silent negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf terrorists, Agence France-Presse (03/02/09) reported that the military is surrounding the positions of the Islamic militants in preparation for a rescue as told by Pres. spokesman Cerge Remonde in Malacanang. Troops are said to be getting ready to confront the kidnappers who are believed to have ties with the notorious Jemaah Islamiya (JI), a Moslem terrorist group operating in neighboring Indonesia.

Perhaps, exasperated by the kidnappers’ demand that the military must pull out of the area, Malacanang and the army have a change of mind. The captives have sent word of their suffering in the hinterlands of Mindanao. But why will the government and its military announce to the whole world that they are planning an attack? Are they planting confusing leads? Is it the most logical thing to do? Are they sure they have learned from the lessons of the past where a forcible rescue and too much talk led to the deaths of the kidnapped victims? Go figure. Announcing plans to the terrorists may not the best thing to do. (Photo Credit: Alvin Chan)=0=

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Muslim religious leaders must also seek the release of Red Cross workers

February 25, 2009

Islamic religious leaders have climbed the mountains of Sampinit in Mindanao to seek the freedom of Umar Jaleel, a peaceworker from Sri Lanka who was abducted by nine armed men believed to be part of the notorious Abu Sayaff group led by Puruji Indama.

“Because the victim is also a Muslim preacher, the Muslim religious leaders went to the mountains to negotiate for his release,” according to the member of the group trying to solve the crisis.” —Philstar (02/25, 09, Pareno, R)

Basilan Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul who heads the provincial crisis management committee says Ulamas who believe hostage-taking is against Islam are out to seek the release of Jaleel, a Muslim.

If kidnapping is against their beliefs, these religious leaders must work for the freedom of other innocent victims—like Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, the three International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) humanitarian workers being held in Sulu, Mindanao since they were forcibly snatched in January 15, 2009. At the time of kidnapping they were doing charity work for prisoners in the area. (Photo Credit: AmUnivers) =0=

UPDATE:“Please tell them, if possible, if they can, to quicken the process. It has become very hard and truly painful. Physically and emotionally, it’s really very, very hard,” said Mary Jean Lacaba, the Filipino captive in the ICRC kidnapping said in a phone interview last Feb 25, 2009.—PDI (02/28/09, de la Cruz, A)

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

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Hostage takers now demand $10 million ransom

February 9, 2009

The modus operandi of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers has unraveled just as expected. After three weeks of holding workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)— Italian Eugenio Vagni, Swiss Adreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, Abu Sayyaf through the Moro Islamic Libration Front (MILF) has stopped treating them as “guests.”

Just as expected, Albader Parad, leader of the notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnappers announced they are demanding $10 million ransom for the three innocent human beings who were there on a humanitarian work to benefit the Sulu prisoners. This extortion demand is more despicable when these criminals say, as in the past, the money is for the hostages’ “board and lodging” obligations.

This hideous development brings the kidnapping on a more difficult plane. Advocating a news blackout, the military has been so far helpless. The ICRC follows a no ransom policy in dealing with criminal elements. In line with the no-negotiation-no ransom policy of the government, the ICRC joins religious, student and community groups in denouncing the abductions and demand the release of the victims.

Kidnapping has been an anathema against peace and progress in the Southern Philippines where the Muslims are concentrated. Barbarism which masquerades as an opportunity to drum up sympathy for the Muslims only send in the message of lawlessness and lack of moral values of Islamic extemists. Hostage-taking has been a source of shame for the government and the Filipino people. (Photo Credit: AP/ Favila, A) =0=

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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 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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Three kidnapped Red Cross workers still missing in Mindanao

January 21, 2009

A week after 3 members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were kidnapped in Patikul, Sulu by heavily armed unidentified men on motorcycles, there had been little news on their whereabouts. Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba were snatched in Southern Philippines on January 15, 2009 during their field inspection of a water sanitation project in Sulu Provincial Jail in Southern Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf, the extremist Islamic group under Albade Parad with Al Qaeda ties had been suspected to be behind the abduction. On Monday, January 19, the kidnapped ICRC workers placed a phone call to their office asking that the military rescue operation be suspended.

Gen. Alexander Yano of the Armed Forces of the Philippines heads the search and rescue operation which show no progress. The military officer keeps a controversial news blackout which he believes is needed so as not to compromise the life of the kidnapped victims.

“Thursday’s abduction was the most high-profile kidnapping of foreigners since 2001, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen snatched nearly two dozen tourists from a resort, including three Americans. One of the Americans was beheaded, a second was killed during a military rescue operation and the third was rescued. The incident prompted Washington to deploy troops in the south starting in 2002, but they are barred from combat.” —Yahoo News / AP (01/17/09, Teves, O)

“Alain Aeschlimann, head of the ICRC’s operations for Asia Pacific in Geneva, said their main concern is to ensure that they continue to be unharmed and that they are let go, without any conditions, as quickly as possible.” —Malaya (01/20/09, Reyes, V)

There is increasing clamor to step up the search. Conflicting rumors heighten the anxiety and feeling of helplessness of hostages’ relatives. With no progress in finding the missing workers, the US Embassy in Manila has offered help to the Philippine authorities. If mishandled, this crisis can quickly degenerate into another round of ransom-giving, then body injuries, and even deaths. Unintended results bring back the old questions on the competence and integrity of the military authorities in solving this kind of dilemma. (Photo Credit: AFP/ ICRC file; Charles Saceda) =0=

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Pygmy tarsier of Indonesia rediscovered after 85 years & a five-petalled mountain flower in Mindanao, Philippines named

November 23, 2008

The Indonesian Pygmy Tarsier (Tarsius pumila)


This week, Indonesia’s pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), the close cousin of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta,) is reported to be thriving in the tropical forest of the island of Sulawesi. Said to be extinct since 85 years ago, the small primate which looks like a monkey approximates the size of a mouse, weighing about 2 ounces and measuring 4 inches.

The nocturnal tailed animal which lives on trees mainly thrives on insects but also eats small crustaceans, lizards, and other tiny animals. Covered by thick brown-gray fur reminiscent of the “gremlins,” it has a characteristic big pair of eyes, proptosed like oversized shiny buttons.

A group of scientists headed by Texas A & M University Sharon Gursky-Doyen have been following up the pygmy tarsiers until they captured three which were fitted with radio collars for more studies.

Coincident to the rediscovery of the pygmy tarsier is the identification of a new plant species which grows in Cagayan, Philippines. Named after Leonard Co, a botanist of the Conservation International, Rafflesia leonardi is unique for its 5-petalled parasitic blooms with no leaves, stems, and roots.

Rafflesia leonardi

Found in the rainforest of Kidapawan, Mindanao, 300 to 700 meters above sea level in the environs of Mount Apo, the rare flower fully blooms in about 10 months and wilts in 7 days. The new species which was identified last May 2008 is the 4th Rafflesia discovered in Luzon and the 8th in the country.

Two things come to mind. First is the growing need for nature conservation in the face of the dangers of extinction of both fauna and flora. Second, human interference (i.e. loss of habitat, predation, pollution etc.) in the lives of these plants and animals may have both beneficial and deleterious consequences which may affect species survival. (Photo Credits: YahooNews/SharonGurskyDoyen; YahooNewsPhilippines; Mediatejack) =0=

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

Outside the Philippines, a number of relatives of the Philippine tarsier can be found, among them the Bornean tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) of Borneo and Sumatra, the spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrum), the lesser spectral tarsier or pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), and Dian’s tarsier (Tarsius dianae) of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The pygmy tarsier, by the way, is considerably smaller than the Philippine tarsier, while the pygmy mouse lemur, found only in Madagascar, is now being recognized as the smallest primate in the world.

The tarsier was first introduced to Western biologists through the description given to J. Petiver by the missionary J.G. Camel of an animal said to have come from the Philippines (Hill, 1955). Petiver published Camel’s description in 1705 and named the animal Cercopithecus luzonis minimus which was the basis for Linnaeus’ (1758) Simia syrichta and eventually Tarsius syrichta. Among the locals, the tarsier is known as “mamag”, “mago”, “magau”, “maomag”, “malmag” and “magatilok-iok”.” Source: Bohol.com/Philippine Tarsier Foundation.

RELATED BLOGS: “Palawan wildlife faces near extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 9/14/2008; “Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 10/23/2008