02/23/2009, 00.00
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Mindanao: Two Filipino hostages set free. No news on humanitarian workers

A father and daughter have been released after four days. There is no confirmation of any ransom payment. The fate of three Red Cross volunteers is still unknown. A Catholic priest confirms that "negotiations are moving forward," but the authorities are keeping a "low profile."

Manila (AsiaNews) - A hotel manager and his daughter were released late yesterday evening, after being kidnapped four days ago in the southern Philippines. However, mystery continues to surround the fate of three humanitarian workers for the Red Cross, who have been in the hands of their kidnappers for more than a month.

The kidnappers have freed Wilson Tan, 50, and his daughter Jennifer, 10, near the village of Sapalan in the province of Maguindanao, located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Last February 18, a group of armed men stormed into Wilson Tan's home: the kidnappers took the man and his daughter, injuring his wife in the head before leaving. The authorities have not said whether there was a ransom payment behind the liberation; the military has attributed the kidnapping to the militias of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that are active in the area.

Meanwhile, mystery continues to surround the fate of the three Red Cross volunteers kidnapped last January 15 in the southern Philippines: they are Eugenio Vagni, Italian; Andreas Notter, Swiss; and Jean Lacaba, Filipino. Fr. Angel Calvo, president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga, confirms that at the moment there are no "substantial new developments" in the matter. "Negotiations are moving forward," Fr. Calvo tells AsiaNews, "and the army continues to operate in the area. So far, no military action has been taken, to avoid putting the lives of the hostages in danger." The priest confirms "secret negotiations, information about which remains confidential"; the parties involved in the negotiations with the kidnappers "are trying to keep a low profile" to avoid compromising the outcome of the mediation.

According to Fr. Calvo, the hostages "are doing relatively well," but their kidnapping "cannot be resolved until there is the payment of a ransom. The alternative," he says, "is military action, but most people are rejecting the second option, because it involves numerous risks and would put their lives in danger." "Everyone agrees on one point: it will take more time," Fr. Angel Calvo concludes, "before the situation is resolved."

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