Army hands-off on Jordanian journo's case

By Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 26 2012 05:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 27 2012 01:26 AM

JOLO, Sulu - The military's top brass is taking a hands-off approach on the situation of Jordanian journalist Baker Abdullah Atyani who has been missing since June 12, 2012.

"We are not involved in that ano, nasa headquarters Philippine Army. Ang local...ang in-charge sa incident na yan," said Lt. General Emmanuel Bautista, commander of the Philippine Army.

Bautista arrived Tuesday morning at Jolo island for the interactive dialogue with community and sectoral leaders in Sulu. 

The dialogue provides a forum for the Armed Forces and stakeholders to discuss the AFP's Internal Peace and Security Plan.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo called him up last night to clear up conflicting information on the status of Baker Atyani.

He said Robredo's information that Atyani was "being held against his will" came from another source and not the Provincial Crisis Management Committee.

Tan stood by his previous statement that the Jordanian journalist is not yet a hostage nor a kidnap victim, despite reported pronouncement by the Philippine National Police.

"Hindi pa kami nag-uusap ng PNP, wala pa ding sinasabi sa akin...Up to now, I would not like to consider him as a hostage," he said. 

He is also irked by the problems caused by Atyani's disappearance after he failed to inform authorities of his plan to interview the terrorist-linked Abu Sayyaf Group.

"Lakad kayo ng lakad, pupunta kayo sa kriminal, you expect anything good to happen to you?" Tan asked.

He noted that Atyani refused an offer to get security escorts before hiis disappearance. 

Aside from Atyani, 2 of his Filipino cameramen were also reported missing. 

Tan said the people of Jolo have been hospitable to the Jordanian journalist and even provided assistance in setting apointments.

Atyani's group was supposed to do coverage of Independence Day celebration in this province last June 12, but reportedly left their room in Sulu State College Hostel, shortly after five in the morning of that day.