Palace welcomes release of PH cameramen

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2013 04:05 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2013 12:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang welcomed the release of Jordanian journalist Bakr Atyani's Filipino crewmen and hopes that the other captives would be released.

The Palace declined to discuss efforts being taken to recover hostages that include foreign nationals.

"We certainly welcome the release of the two Filipino cameramen and of course we would hope that all the captives will be released but… that will take some time," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

"Any sensitive operation would require government not to disclose [information] to the public, for operational reasons and I am sure the public would sympathize with why we do not disclose sensitive operations."

Audio technician Roland "Buboy" Letriro and cameraman Ramil Vela walked free Saturday on Jolo island where they had been held since June last year, regional police chief Noel delos Reyes told AFP. He denied a ransom was paid for their release.

Delos Reyes said there was "no word" on the fate or exact whereabouts of Atyani of the Dubai-based Al Arabiya network.

The two travelled with Atyani to Jolo island in June of last year after they were locally hired in Manila by the Jordanian to film the militants.

They went missing a day after they arrived, and police subsequently said the trio were held captive by the Abu Sayyaf -- a group of self-styled militants blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks as well as other kidnappings.

The group was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later degenerated into a criminal gang.

US special forces have been rotating in the southern Philippine for over a decade to train local troops in crushing Abu Sayyaf which is on Washington's list of wanted foreign terrorist organizations.

At least four other foreign hostages are believed still held in the south by Abu Sayyaf and other militant outfits -- a Dutchman, a Swiss national, an Australian and a Japanese man. With Agence France-Presse