Press Release
April 3, 2009

Soldiers' death not in vain with Lacaba's freedom - Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today thanked the military chain of command and soldiers on the ground in Sulu for making possible 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), made the commendation as he stressed that sticking firmly to peaceful and diplomatic means in resolving conflict is still the best policy.

"We thank all those who have - collectively and individually - made her release possible. We thank the military chain of command, especially the soldiers - those who sacrificed their lives and those who are still fighting in the field, and also the members of the Crisis Committee in Sulu," said Gordon.

The PNRC Chairman also thanked Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for assuring the safe release of Mary Jean Lacaba, also known as "Nene."

"We have learned today that it is better to talk rather than shoot bullets at each other. One hostage is free and the two others are still alive. Mary Jean's release, without the payment of ransom, is a good sign and the government should keep the initiative to enable the release of the two others," said Gordon.

Lady Anne Sahidulla, vice governor of Sulu and chairperson of the PNRC - Sulu Chapter, said that Andreas Notter and Eugenio Vagni were alive and well. Sahidulla was the one who fetched Mary Jean when she was released by the Abu Sayyaf.

On Mary Jean's whereabouts and condition, Gordon said that she was in seclusion with her family and would be undergoing stress debriefing.

"People who have been held hostage for an extended period of time tend to suffer from a number of symptoms ranging from panic, fearfulness, and others," he said.

"The ICRC is providing Mary Jean with medical as well as psychological treatment, part of that treatment calls for keeping her from intrusions for at least eight hours," he added.

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