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Abduction Of ICRC Workers Enters Third Month

March 21, 2009

icrc-hostages-montage-into-third-month

The abduction of three International Red Cross workers by an Abu Sayyaf unit in the jungles of Sulu enters its third month with authorities in a public squabble over how the crisis will be resolved.

Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon, who is politically aligned with President Arroyo. is angry at the top military commander on the ground, General Juancho Sabban, over what he feels is the premature repositioning of troops which had already laid out a containment perimeter in Indanan, Sulo.

Gordon had reportedly closed a deal with ASG gangleader Albader Parad to release lone femake hostage Mary Jane Lacaba in exchange for the military pullback,  but on his cue alone.

Sabban counters that he was simply taking orders from the hostage crisis committee head, Sulu governor Sakur Tan and not Gordon.

But because of the apparent miscommunication between the two government officials, the hopes for Lacaba’s release have suddenly faded.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090321-195338/Gordon-hits-general-no-hostage-freed

The military appears to be angry at Gordon’s intervention in the hostage release negotiations given that scores of Marines have died in close quarters skirmishes with Parad who has repeatedly mocked the military’s failure to end the Au Sayyaf’s mastery over Sulu’s thick mountain jungles.
Hostages Lacaba, Andreas Notter (Switzerland) and Eugenio Vagni (Italy) have repeatedly pleaded for President Arroyo to hold back her troops and let the talks for their release to move forward.
Instead, the military has been instructed to engage Parad’s group as ground commanders feel necessary, including engaging the rebels in fierce mortar exchanges and pocket gunfights.
So three months into the crisis it remains unclear who exactky is calling the shots in the crisis.

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