Press Release
April 3, 2009

Gordon commends efforts for Lacaba's safe release;
renews appeal for two other ICRC workers

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today thanked the people who helped, collectively and individually, in securing the safe and unconditional release of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) worker Mary Jean Lacaba.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), said all efforts to secure Labaca's release should be commended, especially Sulu Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidulla, also a chairperson of PNRC Sulu Chapter.

"I am really very elated with the release of Mary Jean. We thank everyone who has helped ensure her safe release," he said.

"Mary Jean was handed over to the Red Cross chairman in Sulu, Lady Ann. I admire her (Sahidulla) courage and bravery. She is a true Red Crosser and I am thankful that she was able to convince the abductors to free Mary Jean," he said.

Gordon issued the commendation even as he continued to appeal to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for the safe, immediate and unconditional release of the two ICRC hostages -- Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Lacaba.

After 77 days in captivity, Lacaba, 44, was finally freed last Thursday night and was handed over to Sahidulla in Barangay Paligi, Indanan, Sulu.

Gordon, who is also a governor of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said he is grateful for the good news, but said that the ordeal is not yet over with Notter and Vagni still in the hands of the abductors.

"We have to remember that our two other colleagues are still with their abductors. We are appealing again that Andreas and Eugenio also be freed safely, immediately and unconditionally," he said.

The PNRC chairman reiterated his appeal to the Abu Sayyaf to release the two other ICRC workers, and to the military to remain cautious with their actions and strategies.

"Nakikiusap ako sa kanila (Abu Sayyaf) na huwag nilang sasaktan ang dalawa pa naming kasama. Nakikiusap din ako sa mga kasama natin sa militar na patuloy na maging dahan-dahan sa kanilang operasyon," Gordon said.

He also said he will continue to enjoin the whole Red Cross community to offer prayers and sacrifices, and to organize interfaith rallies and prayer vigils for the safe, immediate and unconditional release of Notter and Vagni.

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