Abducted ICRC workers in Philippine say they alright
Three workers of the ICRC held captive on a southern Philippine island for almost two weeks made a brief phone call to say they were alright, ICRC officials said.
Three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross held captive on a southern Philippine island for almost two weeks made a brief phone call on Saturday to say they were alright, ICRC officials said.
Philippine security forces have been scouring the interior of the southern island of Jolo where the three are believed to be held by gunmen.
In a statement posted on its website late on Monday, the ICRC said the three captive workers called up their office in Manila over the weekend to assure their families and colleagues that they were "doing alright". [To view the statement, click on http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/philippines-interv iew-260109?opendocument]
"We have had contact by telephone with Mary-Jean, Eugenio and Andreas over the past 48 hours," Alain Aeschlimann, ICRC head of operations for Asia Pacific, said in the statement.
"Their voices sounded composed and calm and we hope that this is a positive sign," he said. "However, we are concerned that any further public comments by us at this stage could complicate efforts to bring about the safe and rapid return of Marie-Jean, Eugenio and Andreas."
Andreas Notter, a 38 year-old Swiss national; Eugenio Vagni, a 62-year-old Italian; and Mary Jean Lacaba, a 37-year-old Filipina were abducted on Jan. 15 while on their way to a local airport and a few hundred metres from a prison where they had inspected a water and sanitation project.
Before the weekend telephone call, the three had made five calls to the ICRC office between Jan. 16 and 19.
Richard Gordon, a senator and head of the Philippine National Red Cross, said on Tuesday the agency was not aware of any ransom or political demands from the gunmen.
The Red Cross was not involved in any negotiation for the release of the captives, and the agency has had no direct communication with the gunmen, he said.
"We call for their immediate and unconditional release," said Gordon. "The Red Cross has been around for 150 years. Some members had been kidnapped, some killed in the line of duty. But we never paid ransom for them."
Police claimed the three captives were being held by gunmen with links to a top leader of the Abu Sayyaf. But no more details came.
Reuters Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2009, 09:43