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‘Don’t tell us how to free ICRC workers’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:57:00 03/12/2009

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) No one can tell government how to secure the release of three workers of the International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) workers held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

Ermita also said the government is firm on its no ransom policy.

Ermita was reacting to pronouncements by officials of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that the government has only two options to free the aid workers — pay a ransom of P50 million or mount a rescue operation.

“We cannot be dictated upon by the other side. You can be sure that many things are happening which cannot be revealed, but we’re doing something for the safe release of the hostages,” Ermita told reporters in Malacañang.

“We always observe a policy of no ransom payment for such situations, so there’ll be no ransom paid,” he said.

“We will have to be determined in our negotiations through the crisis team headed by [Sulu] Governor Sakur Tan,” he said.

Meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez urged local government officials not to talk about efforts to resolve the Sulu kidnapping, saying “The safety of the victims are compromised.”

“Local government officials know that this should not be discussed. It is very important that our appeal reaches all local government officials,” he said.

Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema and Abdul Sahim, chairman and secretary general of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), respectively, on Wednesday disclosed the ransom demand of the captors of Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian national Eugenio Vagni, and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, and said the only other alternative to paying the ransom would be a “very dangerous” rescue mission.

The ICRC workers were seized near the Sulu provincial capitol on January 15, after they inspected a water facility at the provincial jail.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2009-03-12T08:29:22+00:00UTC03bUTCThu, 12 Mar 2009 08:29:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

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