"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Appeal for safe release of Red Cross workers in Sulu

Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Chairman Senator Richard J. Gordon today appealed to the abductors of a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to immediately release the workers and spare them from any harm.

Gordon, also a governor of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), made the appeal after Swiss Andreas Notter, head of the delegation, Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, and Italian Eugenio Vagni were taken against their will after a humanitarian mission in Jolo, Sulu.

"We appeal to those who have taken these workers to make sure that you do not harm them and release them the soonest possible time. These are innocent non-combatants doing humanitarian work. They are not your enemies," he said.

Gordon narrated that at about 11:30 am today, a team of ICRC workers aboard a vehicle of the PNRC Sulu Chapter had just left the Sulu Provincial Jail after visiting detainees and doing water and health sanitation inspection when they were waylaid by armed men in motorcycles.

The unidentified armed men took the PNRC marked vehicle along with Notter, Lacaba and Vagni but leaving behind three others?Dr. Ritchie Sorilla, Ramon Catacutan and Tausug guide Mohammad Shater Jeriki.

Gordon said they have been trying to establish a line of communication with the victims as the abductors have not yet contacted the Red Cross.

The PNRC Chairman said that the victims were merely doing their duty of alleviating human suffering, in that particular case, they were carrying out water and health sanitation project to ensure that the detainees are in good condition.

"These are neutral personalities. They are there doing useful work for those who are already excluded from combat that is why they were in prison visiting detainees making sure that the conditions thereat are better and doing things to improve them," Gordon said.

"We appeal to the abductors to release the workers and keep in mind that the Geneva Convention provides absolute protection for people doing humanitarian work," he added.

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