Local police and military insist Atyani not kidnapped
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Police and military authorities in Western Mindanao insisted Saturday that Jordanian TV journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani and his Filipino crew have not been kidnapped.
Chief Superintendent Manuel Barcena, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, said they have not gathered any evidence to support reports that Atyani and his crew had been taken hostage.
“We rely on evidence and proof and since there was no validated information that they are indeed kidnapped, they remain missing only,” he said.
Earlier, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sabah Rafei said they were confirming that Atyani had been kidnapped and that efforts were being made to obtain his freedom.
Military officials also rejected the kidnap angle.
“They are safe and have been doing interviews with the Abu Sayyaf and (Moro National Liberation Front),” Sulu Joint Task Force commander Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre said.
He said the military knew their “general location.”
“The crisis management committee is the one overseeing the situation,” Lieutenant General Noel Coballes, Western Mindanao Command chief, replied when asked what the military was planning to do.
Barcena said that even if the reported claims of the Jordanian government were true, the problem was that the government in Amman has not coordinated with Philippine authorities.
“We are asking them to coordinate with us so we can share notes and really give our full support in locating them. The problem is they are not coordinating,” he said.
Rafei had said they were working with Philippine authorities to resolve the kidnapping.
But Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said he did not know of any effort from the Jordanian government to communicate with the authorities.
He said he was greatly displeased when the Jordanian government issued a statement that Atyani had been kidnapped.
“They told everyone except us. Before they did that, they should have contacted us,” he said.
Tan said from now on, he would not pay any attention to Atyani’s case because the Jordanian was never a hostage.
With a report from Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao
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