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AFP spokesman defends Sabban on alleged shady deals with Abu Sayyaf

Says US cable reports are questionable
/ 06:18 PM September 08, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The military on Thursday defended Lieutenant General Juancho Sabban amid allegations derived from a confidential US cable released by Wikileaks that he had benefitted from the negotiation deals for the release of three humanitarian volunteers abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in 2009.

According to Colonel Arnulfo Burgos Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the military did not receive reports regarding shady dealing during the negotiations for the release of three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

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“We have not received any report. If we get that kind of report we conduct immediate investigation,” Burgos told reporters.

When asked about General Sabban’s reputation, Burgos said: “He (Sabban) is a professional soldier.”

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Burgos also downplayed the latest WikiLeaks report saying the credibility and authenticity of these alleged confidential documents are questionable.

“We don’t glorify reports from WikiLeaks. These are unverified and unconfirmed. In terms of determining its authenticity, it is questionable. We cannot really establish (its authenticity),” Burgos said.

In the cable released by WikiLeaks website, then Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro was quoted by then US Ambassador Kristie Kenney in saying that Sabban had personally profited from the deals for the release of Andreas Notter, the Swiss head of the ICRC office in Zamboanga City, and two aid workers; Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Jean Lacaba.

The confidential cable, dated August 28, 2009, however, did not detail as to how Sabban may have benefitted from the deal.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Colonel Arnulfo Burgos Jr., International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Lieutenant General Juancho Sabban, WikiLeaks
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