Robredo now mum on missing Jordanian journalist
Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo has chosen to remain close-lipped on the situation of missing Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani and his two Filipino crew members “in the interest of their safety.”
“My simplest comment is that in the interest of their safety, it is best that we leave the issue alone,” Robredo told reporters in an ambush interview.
Robredo said he is for letting the Sulu crisis management committee oversee developments on the case of the Al Arabiya journalist and the Filipinos, Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela—who may or may not have been kidnapped.
When pressed, however, Robredo disclosed that he had received no reports of a ransom demand by the Abu Sayyaf bandits who are supposedly holding Atyani and his companions hostage.
He also said he learned that Atyani arrived in the country as a tourist and had not applied for a work permit from the government.
It was Robredo who earlier confirmed that Atyani and the two Filipinos were being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf, although the military insisted the three were not being kept against their will.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has also said that Atyani and his crew have been monitored by the military to be freely moving about in rebel camps in Sulu.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry earlier confirmed that Atyani, who went missing on June 12 with his Filipino crew, had been abducted in Sulu province while on a reporting assignment.
Atyani was known for having interviewed Osama bin Laden months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, fueling suspicions among government officials about his real agenda.
The group arrived at the Jolo airport at 10 a.m. of June 11, interviewed Sulu Governor Sakur Tan and indicated that they planned to rest the next day.
But the next morning, a Tuesday, a multi-cab arrived at their hotel and Atyani and his crewmen boarded the vehicle without notifying Tan and local officials.
Malacañang has similarly said it will not be making any official statements on the Atyani affair, directing media people to go to Robredo as “this is primarily a police enforcement issue.”
“Officially, Jesse Robredo will be the lead official to make any updates on the Jordanian journalist,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a news briefing.
The PNP is under the supervision of the Department of Interior and Local Governments headed by Robredo. With a report from Norman Bordadora
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