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Baker Abdulla Atyani Is Moving Freely Interviewing Abu Sayyaf, MILF

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Tuesday that Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani and his two Filipino crewmen “are moving freely and interviewing ranking Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) officials in Sulu,” belying claims that the three are hostages of the bandits.

Gazmin based his statement on the reports of Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes.

“I asked him about the situation of the missing Jordanian newsman and he told me that there were sightings of the latter with his crew moving from an ASG camp to an MNLF base. With such mobility, you can deduce that they are not being held captive,” the DND chief said.

He added that Coballes gave this information to him when they met each other during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Special Forces Regiment of the Philippine Army in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija on Monday.

Gazmin also said that Atyani, of the Al Arabiya Southeast Asia Bureau, came to Jolo with the sole purpose of recording and interviewing a hostage set to be released by the ASG.

He declined to comment on whether the three are being escorted when on the move, adding that they have no such report at present.

Gazmin said that should the military be required “to extricate them from some unseen development,” the troops are in place in the area.

“We know exactly where they are. If given the orders, we can go in and extricate them immediately,” the DND chief stressed.

Reported missing as of June 12 are Atyani and his Filipino crew Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela.

This was after the trio failed to return to their room at the Sulu State College Hostel where they checked in at 11 p.m. on June 11.

At 5:45 a.m. on June 12, the three men were reportedly fetched by a man driving a multicab and have not returned since then.

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