Atyani case: Robredo clams up; BI launches probe
MANILA, Philippines–Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said Wednesday he would rather not make any more comment on the real status of Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani and his two other Filipino companions.
Speaking to reporters during the launching of the Local Government Watch, Robredo said “it’s best if we leave the issue as it is.”
“It would be good for all if we don’t talk about it…[I’ll] shut up [on this],” he said after reporters pressed for his comments on the issue.
But just for additional information, Robredo said Atyani didn’t have a working permit and entered the Philippines on a tourist visa.
He said he leaves the issue on the proper authorities tasked to handle the case, saying that it is for the safety of Atyani, and the two other crewmen identified as Ramilito Vela and Rolando Letrero.
It can be recalled that it was Robredo who said that Atyani and the two others were being held “against their will” after the team apparently pressed ahead with their plan to interview the rebel group inside their territory last June 12 for a documentary. Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, however, denied the information.
Atyani was also accused of being a “fund conduit” of the Abu Sayyaf.
They were tagged “missing” since then after they did not return to their hotel where they were last seen.
The Bureau of Immigration, meanwhile, is also investigating the entry into the country of Atyani.
Immigration Spokesperson Maria Antonette Mangrobang on Wednesday said they asked the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) to confirm if Atyani, South Asian Bureau Chief of the Dubai-Based Al Arabiya Network, is their member.
FOCAP is a non-profit organization of international news agencies, publications, radio and television networks.
“We were requesting for verification/certification if Mr. Atyani is registered/accredited with FOCAP,” Mangrobang told INQUIRER.net.
The Philippine government has expressed doubts on the true nature of Atyani’s trip to the Philippines. Atyani was able to interview al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden a few months before the 9-11 attack.
Mangrobang said their investigation is a “standard operating procedure.”
“We have to check if foreigners have appropriate documentation for the activities they are performing in the country,” Mangrobang said.
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