Manila said Thursday it would explore "all avenues" to obtain the release of the Filipino worker reportedly hostaged by an Iraqi group.
Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s concern now was saving Filipino lives. He said the President is praying "that no harm comes to our countryman."
"The President has ordered Ambassador (Roy) Cimatu to immediately fly to the Middle East in order to ascertain the identity of the hostage, monitor the situation and work for the resolution of the problem," he said in an official statement.
He disclosed that the President also ordered all government agencies concerned, particularly the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs, to extend assistance to the remaining Filipinos in Iraq.
Arabic Television station’s al-Jazeera on Wednesday night reported that a Filipino employee of a Saudi company working with US occupation troops in Iraq was taken captive by men purportedly belonging to the Islamic Army in Iraq.
The captors threatened to execute the Filipino if the Philippines does not withdraw its troops from Iraq within 72 hours.
Reacting to the situation, the President immediately ordered the DOLE and the DFA to stop the processing of workers bound for Iraq and instructed the Middle East Preparedness Team led by Cimatu to confirm the veracity of the report.
She also called for a special meeting of the Cabinet oversight committee on national security to discuss the findings and recommendations of the MEPT.
There are some 1,000 Filipino workers in Iraq excluding the 50 plus members of the Philippine humanitarian contingent to the strife-torn nation. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )