No proof linking Jordanian to terrorism-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima said she received no information yet on the alleged involvement of missing Jordanian journalist Baker Abdullah Atyani in terrorist activities.
Atyani and his crew were reported missing since June 12, but Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo confirmed Wednesday morning that Atyani and his Filipino crew are in safe condition.
Although Robredo did not divulge the whereabouts of the journalist and his Filipino crew, cameraman Ramelito Vela and audio operator Rolando Letrero, he said the three will be called for questioning when they surface.
He said Atyani assured him he is taking full responsibility of his team.
He said with this development, search and rescue operations for the three have been ruled out.
Robredo earlier called for the declaration of Atyani as persona non grata for trying to interview the bandits without government clearance.
But de Lima maintained it is the government's responsibility to protect its citizens including foreigners who are in the Philippines to either work or visit.
"We cannot just declare him persona non grata or ban someone from coming back to the Philippines because we have to be careful of possible repercussions especially with the international media," she said.
The Justice chief also ruled out, for now, any cases that will be possibly filed against Atyani.
President Benigno Aquino III, however, expressed his disappointment on Atyani, who covertly interviewed the terror group Abu Sayyaf, saying he might be banned from entering the country again.
In an interview in Davao City, the President said Atyani should explain why he “made a deal” with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who is known as “enemy of the state.”
“Why are you in touch with a terrorist force in the country and you purposely misled government authorities who are trying to secure you. That has to be addressed,” Aquino said.
He also denounced the foreign journalist for putting the life of his Filipino news team in danger.
“We have to address the issue of why he has put so many people in (danger)… and the country’s reputation also in danger. He has not behaved as what a guest of the country should...but of course we will wait for a proper investigation,” the Chief Executive said.
Asked if he will support the recommendation of Robredo for Atyani to be banned from entering the country again, Aquino said: “I think it leads toward that path. But I want him to undergo the process. Give him a chance to explain himself.”
He said the government will make sure that Atyani and his team will be safe.
Once Atyani and his team resurface, Robredo said he will recommend to the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration to ban the foreign journalist from returning to the country again.
“If you imperil yourself and you create problems for us, I think you should be banned from visiting our country again. If something happens to him, it is our responsibility,” he said, adding that his recommendation was for Atyani’s “own good and own security.”
Robredo said the government is coordinating with the family of Atyani regarding the matter.
He said the foreign TV reporter went to Sulu to do a documentary, which he described as “Mission Impossible type.”
He said Atyani is taking responsibility for the two Filipinos whom he hired to accompany him for the interview.
Robredo said the government is worried about their safety since they did not go to Sulu voluntarily but only because they want to do their job. (Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)