ZAMBOANGA CITY -- An ex-prison guard related to an Abu Sayyaf leader is one of the gunmen who seized three officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sulu last Thursday, a source claimed yesterday.
"The jail guard is one of the kidnappers, but he is not a follower of Gov. Sakur Tan. He is out to discredit the administration of Governor Tan," said the source, who requested not to be identified.
He identified the former prison guard as Raden Abu who had earlier been sacked by Tan.
Abu resented his firing and the kidnapping of the Red Cross workers could be an act of retaliation against the governor, the source said.
The military and police force in Sulu launched a province-wide search and rescue operation for Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Jean Lacaba shortly after they were seized at gunpoint Thursday in Patikul town.
Another source said that Abu is a relative of notorious Abu Sayyaf member and may have carried out the kidnapping with the help of group with links to Al Qaeda.
The source said that a day before the kidnapping, 12 prisoners bolted out of Sulu jail through a secret tunnel probably with the help of the ex-jail guard.
One of those 12 escapees was an Abu Sayyaf terrorist named Magambian Sakilan, who may have joined in Thursday's abduction, along with Sulu's most wanted person Mahari Aradji.
The governor was said to have been irked by the jailbreak and had ordered an investigation.
The high profile kidnapping of foreigners is a big setback Tan's efforts to promote Sulu as a tourism and investment haven.
There is still no negotiation for ransom, said the source.
Tan had earlier dismissed any plan to negotiate with kidnappers and urged the military and police to intensify the hunt for the suspects.
Church appeals for safe release of ICRC workers
By LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO
Church leaders yesterday appealed to the abductors of the three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to immediately release their captives.
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Committee chairman and Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said it is time for the abductors to consider the welfare of other people by releasing their victims.
Iniguez said, "It's very sad that even these people in humanitarian service are victims of kidnapping."
Bishop Nathanael Lazaro, chairman of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), described Thursday's abduction of the ICRC workers in Sulu as horrible.
"It's horrible to see people of peace and workers of Red Cross being abducted purposely to make money. This is the worst that we see in this country that those people who help build lives are being kidnapped in order to make money," he said.
"I'm appealing for the release of these people who are only trying to help us have a better and new life every time we are in crisis," Lazaro said.
"We pray that at the soonest possible time, this will come to a close with the lives of these people intact and continuously working for the upliftment of the humanity," said Lazaro. …