Atyani not held captive, says Sulu crisis team

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2012 10:17 PM | Updated as of Jun 29 2012 04:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani and his two Filipino crew are not being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu, the province’s Crisis Management Committee (CMC) said on Thursday.

“As far as the CMC is concerned and this is the official (information) of course, they are not held against their will,” CMC spokesperson Jainab Abdul Majid said.

Majid said there are no indications that the group was kidnapped.

“There are no reports reaching the Crisis Committee that they are being held. We have reports that they are going around, they are free to move around,” she said.

Majid, however, noted that the CMC is necessary “to monitor their whereabouts and to make sure that the safety of the people will not be jeopardized.”

Majid also said they cannot guarantee the safety of the group until they make contact.

"We cannot say they will be safe or they will not be safe because we would not know what’s in the minds of the people they went with," she said.

Atyani and the two Filipinos, who have been missing since June 12, were provided with a tour guide and a vehicle, said Majid.

They were last seen leaving their hotel without the guide.

“He left his guide and didn't say where he was going. So there is an element of deceit," said Majid.

The CMC’s findings bolstered the earlier statement of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that journalists are moving freely at the camps of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro National Liberation Front.

However, Interior Secretary Jesse Robrero and police officials believe that Atyani and his crew were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry also believes that the group is being held captive by the terrorist group.