Palace believes there was ‘change’ in Atyani’s circumstance

Posted at 06/24/12 1:15 PM

Palace: We are concerned

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang believes Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani and his Filipino crewmen went voluntarily to the Abu Sayyaf’s lair, but a “change of circumstance” happened along the way.

In an interview with radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “We don’t agree that it’s an abduction. The information we got is that he went there voluntarily. Now, he’s not able to leave.”

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said the terrorists have taken hostage Atyani and his men, a report from dzMM reporter Robert Mano said.

Atyani has not contacted authorities for days now since he was posted for a reporting trip to Jolo, where he allegedly interviewed members of the Abu Sayyaf.

Government authorities late last week could not determine the real situation of Atyani, but said he was “in the hands” of the Abu Sayyaf. They insisted, however, that he went there willingly.

Valte said it is up to Robredo to explain the change in situation.

She insisted the government is “concerned” about the journalist and his men, dismissing criticisms that the government downplayed the earlier situation Atyani was in.

“It’s not correct [to say we are not concerned], we are. That is why we’re closely monitoring the situation,” she said.

“We have to remember that he did not tell authorities of his intention…He was offered security, but he declined,” she said.

She added it’s up to Robredo to disclose if there is a search and rescue operation for the missing men. She insisted, however, that the government will stand by its no ransom policy.