Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jordanian free to go, but…

ZAMBOANGA CITY— There are reports that Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani was finally allowed to leave the Abu Sayyaf camp on Thursday but he decided to stay when the Islamist extremists would not release his two Filipino cameramen, a civil society organization leader said Friday.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said the information was “not true.”

But Octavio Dinampo of Bantay Ceasefire Sulu, a former kidnap victim himself, said the information was “credible.”

He declined to identify his sources.

He said the report was that the Jordanian journalist was set to be freed in Sabah, Malaysia, but decided to stay because he was worried about the safety of his companions.

“Our sources learned about the plan to release Atyani last June 28 in Sabah. But the plan did not materialize because Atyani himself refused to leave his two Filipino companions behind,” Dinampo said, referring to Ramelito Vela and Rolando Letrero.

No ransom
It was not reported whether or not ransom was demanded for the release of Atyani, who works with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network.

Vela and Letrero, who served as the Jordanian’s camera and audio crew, are employees of Manila-based SFX Production House.

Vela is in constant contact with his family in Manila, Dinampo said.

Dinampo said the Abu Sayyaf wanted to release Atyani “because his continued stay there may have some national security implications.”

“But it was Atyani who protected the two from their captors, saying he would  leave the camp provided his two companions will join him,” he said.

Jainab Abdulmajid, spokesperson of the Sulu Crisis Management Committee, said authorities were now aware of the location of the three media persons and  that they were  being monitored.

No rescue effort
Abdulmajid, echoing the military line, said authorities had not lifted a finger to secure the three men because “we don’t consider them missing or hostages.”

But Chief Supt. Mario Avenido, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the government was not sleeping on the case of Atyani, Vela and Letrero.

“But we cannot publicize everything we do,” he added.

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