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Palace maintains ‘no-ransom’ policy in latest ASG kidnapping

The Aquino administration reiterated its no-ransom policy following reports that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) reportedly demanded a PhP50-million ransom for the release of the Jordanian broadcast journalist who was reported missing since June 12.

“We continue to maintain the no-ransom policy. But, again, the lines of communication are between Sulu Governor Sakur Tan and the ASG,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

Reports said Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani of Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV and his two Filipino cameramen Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela were reported missing in Sulu after they failed to return to the Sulu State College Hostel in the capital town Jolo.

“Sulu Governor Sakur Tan has formed a crisis committee in Sulu. What we can confirm is that the said journalist is in the hands of the ASG and that he went there (ASG lair) voluntarily for an interview,” Lacierda said.

“It is also confirmed that he had in another occasion the opportunity to interview an Abu Sayyaf head,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the government, through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), is closely monitoring the progress of the operations being undertaken to secure the safety of the Jordanian journalist and his crew.

The ASG, reportedly holding Atyani and his crew, is in the forested areas of Patikul to avoid detection from the military and police authorities who are conducting follow-up operations.

Atyani and his crew arrived in Jolo on June 11 and checked in at the Sulu State College Hostel in Barangay Bangka.

At 5 a.m. the following day, Atyani was fetched by a white multi-cab with plate number LLC 238 to head for Bud Datu in Patikul. The three never returned to the hostel since then, according to the police.