Cops dispatched to locate Jordanian journalist, 2 Filipinos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Police forces have been dispatched to locate the Jordanian journalist and his two Filipino crew being held by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.
Chief Superintendent Mario Avenido, the police chief for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that immediately after Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that Baker Atyani, bureau chief of the Dubai-based Al Arabiya News Network, and Filipinos Ramelito Vela and Rolando Letrero of the Taguig City-based SFX, were with the Abu Sayyaf, “I ordered the police in Sulu to locate them.”
Avenido said Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, police chief for Sulu, was also directed to “supervise the overall operations to locate and secure them.”
Chief Superintendent Manuel Barcena, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO), said the crisis management committee has been activated, “meaning all resources, personnel are mobilized to locate them and find out how we can help them.”
Barcena said mobilization of forces would only be for gathering information.
Still, Barcena maintained that Atyani, Vela and Letrero were not kidnapped. “They were prevented from leaving the Abu Sayyaf camp after the interview and since they are there for more than three days now, it’s already serious illegal detention,” he said.
Freyra, on the other hand, said police “spotters” and civilian volunteers were sent to the area to validate information on the location of the victims and their captors.
“According to our spotters, they saw Atyani but failed to see the two Filipinos. Probably the two were roaming around taking video or answering the call of nature,” Freyra said.
Declining to give more details, Freyra also denied earlier reports that Atyani and the two Filipinos have been separated by their captors.
“What we got from the spotters was that they saw the Jordanian at the time,” he said.
Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said they have not launched a rescue operation, “but we know their exact location.”
On Sunday, Robredo said Atyani’s group was with Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.
But Robredo could still not say if there was a demand for ransom. “We cannot say at this time, but our impression for the said call may have something to do with asking for something from his company, parang may gustong hingiin (it seems something is being sought), but we cannot just conclude at this time,” he said.
Atyani was supposed to meet with Yasser Igasan, the alleged new leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the province, on June 12. He and his crew failed to return since.
Robredo described Igasan as a sub-leader of Sahiron.