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.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ICRC wants safety of 3 abducted staff confirmed

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is waiting for confirmation that its three abducted members in southern Philippines are unharmed amid the ongoing military operations there.

While relieved over initial reports the hostages were not harmed, the ICRC remains concerned for the safety of Andreas Notter, Eugenio Vagni and Mary Jean Lacaba.

"It was a great relief, therefore, to be informed last evening that Mary Jean, Eugenio and Andreas were unharmed. We still expect a direct confirmation from our colleagues that they are fine," said Alain Aeschlimann, ICRC head of operations for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Aeschlimann also reiterated the group's appeal to the kidnappers and all those dealing with the hostage crisis to be careful in their moves.

"The ICRC is renewing its appeal to the kidnappers and to all those involved in dealing with this crisis to refrain from any action which could jeopardize the safety of Mary Jean, Eugenio and Andreas," he said in the group’s website.

The terrorist group Abu Sayyaf has admitted holding custody of Notter, Vagni and Lacaba in the hinterlands of Sulu province. The three were seized last January 15.

Earlier this week, an exchange of gunfire occurred in the area where the hostages are reportedly held.

"The ICRC is aware that there was an exchange of gunfire yesterday, 9 February, in an area close to where our three kidnapped colleagues are reportedly being held. The ICRC was very concerned when it heard about this development in view of the consequences it could have had for our staff," Aeschlimann said.

But he declined to comment further on the situation, saying it is a "very delicate" one that must be "handled with caution."

"For this reason, I am unable to provide further information about the incident. I am sure that both the media and the public will understand this. I will just mention that we have been well informed by the Philippine government about what happened yesterday and the chain of events," he said.

He added the ICRC is doing everything it can to obtain the unconditional and rapid release of its staff.(GMANews.TV)

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