Sulu provincial Governor Abdusakur Tan has ordered troops to rescue kidnapped Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni.
Vagni was kidnapped with two other Red Cross workers, Filippina Mary Jean Lacaba and Swiss man Andreas Notter on the island of Jolo on January 15th. The terrorists released Lacaba on April 2nd. Notter was rescued last Saturday.
The order to rescue Vagni was given in the light of after growing concerns for his health – he has a hernia and suffers hypertension – and after talks with Abu Sayyaf failed following the refusal of the Red Cross and Philippine authorities to negotiate the payment of a ransom.
Refusing to pay a ransom was a scary decsion, but was absolutely the right thing to do. Paying terrorists encourages an industry of kidnapping, and enables them to purchase arms and support.
As at Saturday, troops have already clashed with Abu Sayyaf, but there have been no sightings of Vagni.
One hopeful sign. Governor Tan said said he was grateful to “a great number of local residents” who have been providing information on the movements of the Abu Sayyaf. He said they wanted to end the crisis as soon as possible. Even the civilian volunteers who joined the operation said they already want to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf and get Vagni safely.
Support for Abu Sayyaf has come from the largely Muslim local population. If the locals have had enough of terrorists in their midst, their time is coming to an end.