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Use emergency powers to free ICRC workers, GMA told

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile called on President Arroyo yesterday to use her emergency powers to free the three kidnapped Red Cross workers being held in Sulu.

“(The President) must control the situation. You know if you seal Sulu and control the movement of the people, including the movement of food supply and transportation, I think that the case will be resolved,” Enrile said over radio station dwIZ.

“Terrorists can take their time; you cannot allow that to happen. That’s why the President has emergency powers under the Constitution, to address problems like this,” Enrile said.

He said the President must do everything in her power to save the three Red Cross workers.

“I think this is taking too long. I pity the three victims, three lives are involved,” Enrile said.

The three workers – Andreas Notter, 38, of Switzerland; Eugenio Vagni, 62, of Italy; and Mary Jean Lacaba, 37, of the Philippines – were in Jolo, a predominantly Muslim region, to inspect a water sanitation project at the provincial jail when they were kidnapped last Jan. 15.

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The kidnappers handed the three victims over to Abu Sayyaf gunmen in their stronghold in the dense jungles near Indanan town in Sulu province.

Their abduction was the most high-profile kidnapping of foreigners since 2000, when Abu Sayyaf militants snatched 21 people, mostly European tourists, from a Malaysian resort then brought them to Sulu. All the victims were eventually freed in exchange for millions of dollars in ransom, reportedly financed by Libya.

Abu Sayyaf is on the US list of terrorist organizations because of its links to al-Qaeda. – Aurea Calica

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