Palace not worried over travel advisories against Mindanao

April 12, 2010 11:04 pm 

MANILA, April 12 – Malacañang Monday said it views with more urgency the safety and security of the Filipino-Swiss national, and others who have been abducted in Mindanao rather than the travel bans being imposed by foreign governments.

In a media briefing, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar said that while the travel advisories issued by Britain and Canada to their nationals are of concern to the country’s visitor volumes, “still what matters to us more is the security and safety of the victims of such incidents.”

Last April 6, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat sought the unconditional release for health reasons of a 72-year-old Filipino-Swiss abducted last April 4 in Zamboanga City by suspected Moro rebels and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Lobregat, chair of the local crisis committee, said the kidnap victim, Charlie Reith, had multiple health concerns.

“He is frail, he is 72 years ill and he is diabetic… he has heart and throat condition and vertigo and also suffering from hypertension. The victim has no family in Zamboanga,” Lobregat said.

Reith was born in the Philippines but his father is a Swiss married to a Filipina.

The victim is facing an agrarian reform case that has been pending for a long time before a local court in Zamboanga City.

Military officials said search and rescue operations for Reith continue with the deployment of more than 500 soldiers from various military units in the Zamboanga peninsula.

The military earlier tagged a group of rogue Moro rebels and the ASG as the ones responsible for the abduction of Reith from his resort last Sunday in Zamboanga City.

Major General Romeo Lustestica, 1st Infantry Division commander, said they received information that Khair Mundos, the new leader of the ASG, might have planned the abduction.

Lustestica added the kidnappers reportedly wore military and police uniforms when they swooped down on Reith’s resort on the pretext that they were arresting him for drug charges.

Reith’s companion, a German national, was able to escape from being abducted after he fought back, the military official said. (PNA)

LDV/OPS/jsd

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