Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ICRC says daily contact with hostages

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday it had been in daily telephone contact with its three kidnapped workers in the southern Philippines since last week.

"The first call was Friday," Carla Haddad Mardini, a spokeswoman at ICRC headquarters in Geneva told Agence France-Presse. The latest call was on Monday.

"This allows us to know that they're in good health," she said, adding that they were being held together.

However, the agency has not been in touch so far with the gunmen or a group that might have kidnapped them, and was unable to identify who they were, Haddad Mardini added.

Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba were seized while on a humanitarian mission last Thursday on the island of Jolo.

Earlier Monday, the Philippine National Red Cross denied reports that gunmen were demanding $5 million in ransom.

Haddad Mardini said there was concern that the various accounts and "rumors" about the kidnapping could have an impact on the situation of the three.

"There are many rumors circulating and it's hard to separate fact from fiction," she added.

Military officials suspect the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group is behind the abductions, although local officials have also said a former provincial jail guard could be involved.

Abu Sayyaf is on the US government's list of foreign terrorist organizations, and is wanted for the kidnapping deaths of two Americans in 2002.

The Philippines military over the weekend imposed a news blackout for fear of jeopardizing pursuit operations.(Agence France-Presse)

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