Zamboanga City stands firm on 'no ransom' policy

By Roel Pareño zamboanga-city.jpgThe city government is assisting the families of the kidnap victims and has asked them to negotiate only through authorized agencies. Google Earth, file
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The city government here said it will stick to the government's "no ransom" policy as it advised the families of laborers abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu not to pay either.
 
This, after government learned the Abu Sayyaf group has opened negotiations with the victims' families here to demand P1 million each for the safe release of the laborers.
 
The abducted laborers were identified as Edmundo Ramos, Jayson Baylosis, Joker Adanza, Jun Guerrero and Jenly Miranda, all Zamboanga City residents.
 
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar in a news briefing Monday said the city government — and the Philippine government itself — has a policy of not paying ransom. 
Negotiations for the release of kidnap victims are also are done through authorized agencies, she said.
 
Salazar said city officials have visited the families of the victims and the social welfare office has provided relief assistance.
 
She said her office has also provided vouchers as livelihood assistance for the families of the victims while also hoping for their release soon.
 
"Communication have already opened between the negotiating team and the kidnappers. So we hope and pray for their safety," Salazar said.
 
The five victims, all construction workers, were seized from the Kawmpang Elementary School Sports Complex Barangay Bangkal, Patikul town before dawn on Saturday.
 
Salazar also advised the victims’ families not to ask government officials for ransom money, saying this has happened in past cases, where victims' families were pressured approach politicians for financial assistance to pay off the kidnappers.
 
The local chief executive also said that while the government cannot deny the people their right to travel, they are advised to reconsider job opportunities in areas considered risky.
 
The mayor also wrote a local contractors group to provide jobs for their laborers in safer areas.

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