Press Release
April 6, 2009

Gordon: Keep lifeline of communication open for 2 ICRC workers

Independent Senator and Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Chairman Richard J. Gordon today stressed the importance of keeping communications line open to ensure the safe release of the two remaining International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hostages.

Gordon, a governing board member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said there is a need to tread carefully in this extremely dangerous situation.

"At this point, talk is a lifeline in this extremely dangerous situation," he said.

"This is not a location shoot for a movie. There is no Take 2 if things do not turn out right," he added.

ICRC workers - Swiss Andrea Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba - were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf near the Sulu provincial jail in Patikul, Sulu last Jan. 15 after coming from a humanitarian mission.

Lacaba was released last Thursday after 77 days in captivity. But Notter and Vagni remain captive by the Abu Sayyaf.

Their captors have reiterated their demand for a large-scale military pull out or they would behead one of the remaining hostages.

Gordon stressed that it would be a great loss for the country if the Abu Sayyaf would carry out their threat to behead one of the remaining hostages.

"If the hostages are harmed, the door to life will be closed. The Red Cross and humanity will lose. But the loss could be even greater for our nation. Mark my word," he said.

The PNRC chairman also pointed out that he has a personal and institutional responsibility to ensure the safe release of his colleagues, hence his voicing out his frustrations on the military's way of handling the crisis.

"Ako ay may personal at institusyunal na responsibilidad na gawin ang lahat upang matiyak ang ligtas na pagbabalik ng mga nabihag naming kasamahan," he said.

"Kung ako ay nagpahayag ng pagkabahala sa gobyerno at sa patakaran o aksyon ng militar sa Sulu, ito ay dahil sa panganib na nagbabanta sa buhay ng mga nabihag naming kasamahan sa Red Cross," he added.

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