Archive for the ‘hostages’ Category

ICRC worker Mary Jean Lacaba freed by Abu Sayyaf bandits

April 3, 2009

After 78 days in captivity, Filipina hostage Mary Jean Lacaba has been freed by the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. The fates of two of her companions, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian workers Andreas Notter of Switzerland and Eugenio Vagni of Italy are not known.

Though Alain Aeschlimann, regional operations chief for the ICRC, disclosed he doesn’t have information on the condition of the two other hostages, Foreign Minister of Italy Franco Frattini was reported to have said the two hostages are alive.

Thirty-seven year old Lacaba who endured the hostage ordeal since her abduction on January 15, 2009 was abandoned by the Islamic extremists on April 2, 2009. The ICRC worker was fetched in Barangay Palig in the border of Indanan and Parang at about 7 P.M. and was brought to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

The release of Lacaba comes when government authorities prepare to evacuate an estimated 21,000 residents who may be caught in a crossfire if confrontations between the bandits and the military forces occur. (Photo Credit: AFP/ ICRC) =0=


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


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


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=