Philippine Negotiator Plans next Move after Hostage Talks Collapse
The Philippines' chief hostage negotiator refused Sunday to disclose details of reopened efforts to win the release of 28 western and Filipino hostages after a Libyan-backed deal to free them collapsed at the 11th hour.
"We are still working" with the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, government negotiator Roberto Aventajado told a news conference, but he refused to give details.
"There are certain things that at the moment we can't tell you," he said.
Aventajado said he would submit a full report to President Joseph Estrada by Monday morning, and "we will go on with our policy of negotiations."
He told AFP earlier Sunday that he had renewed telephone contact with the Abu Sayyaf whose leader Galib Andang, alias Commander Robot, has custody over most of the captives.
Manila's four-month effort to end the hostage crisis which started with the abduction of 21 tourists and staff at the Malaysian resort of Sipadan was rocked Saturday when the Abu Sayyaf pulled out of a deal bankrolled by Libya to redeem all the hostages.
A charity run by a son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi later threatened to pull out its negotiators and drop an offer of development aid reportedly worth 25 million dollars if there were no fresh developments in 48 hours.
"We will have to make adjustments if Libya does pull out," Aventajado said.
But he reiterated that "the help offered by Libya was voluntary in nature and of course if it is voluntary in nature it could be withdrawn anytime they wish. It's the call of Libya of course."
"Libya knows exactly what's going on. They can make their own decision. We're not keeping anything from them."
He also refused to set his own timetable for the resolution of the hostage crisis.
"It's always been my policy not to work on a particular time frame," Aventajado said.
"The conditions on the ground dictate my pace." -- ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFP)
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