MANILA, Philippines – The Sulu Provincial Crisis Management Committee on Friday said it has received reports that the Jordanian government has begun negotiating for the release of journalist Baker Atyani, who is allegedly in the custody of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, who heads the crisis committee, said the Jordanian Embassy in Manila may have already contacted the Abu Sayyaf regarding the release of Atyani.
“Siguro may mga nakokontak naman ang embassy nila. At tayo naman, wala tayong contact doon sa embassy,” said Tan.
Authorities said text messages about negotiations for Atyani's release have been spreading in Sulu since Thursday.
The messages alleged that Atyani will be released in Sabah, Malaysia.
Another circulating text message alleged that Atyani was supposed to be released on Thursday but the Jordanian opted to stay until his Filipino companions are released as well.
Tan, however, said these text messages are still subject to validation.
“May naririnig akong mga ganoon. Pero hangga't hindi natin nava-validate ‘yan, ay hindi tayo pwedeng gumawa ng statement,” said Tan.
The crisis management committee earlier said they have no basis to order a search and rescue operation because there are no signs that the group was kidnapped.
Atyani and his two Filipino crew went missing after they were fetched from their hotel by unidentified men last June 12.
Authorities have been receiving conflicting reports on whether Atyani and his two Filipino cameramen are being held against their will. -- Reports from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News; ANC