Puno rules out immediate probe of Sahidulla

July 18, 2009 2:22 pm 

MANILA, July 18 -– The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) rules out an immediate investigation on the liability of Sulu vice governor Lady Anne Sahidula for extending P50,000 to the Abu Sayyaf Group in connection with the release of hostage Italian Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni.

”I’ll try to see first premises for this investigation before authorizing any probe from my department,” Local Government and Interior Secretary Secretary Ronaldo Puno said Saturday at Kapihan sa Sulo forum.

He said that in doing so, would help generate a more productive investigation of the matter if DILG eventually undertakes this activity.

”I don’t believe an investigation should be entered into haphazardly – after all, she was instrumental in Vagni’s release,” he said.

Vagni is the last of three Red Cross workers to regain freedom from ASG captivity. The ASG earlier released his fellow Red Cross workers Andreas Notter, a Swiss, and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba. The trio were kidnnapped on Jan. 15.

If DILG eventually investigate Sahidulla, Puno said the agency would look into what laws she violated by giving money to ASG.

Sahidulla claims ASG asked her for cash its members can use to buy cigarettes.

Puno assured he won’t interfere in a probe requested by Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

”I’m not familiar with details of the case and will have to refer to DOJ and whoever else is investigating it,” Puno said.

In a statement this week, Philippine National Red Cross chairman Senator Richard Gordon reminded investigating authorities to proceed “with great care and with the good counsel of those who understand culture of the people of Sulu.”

He said authorities must do so since they’ll be probing Sahidulla’s culpability under Philippine laws “for engaging in a cultural practice unique in her part of the country.”

Sahidulla's “intimate and personal understanding” of Sulu’s culture paved the way toward ensuring release of Vagni and his two Red Cross colleagues, he said. (PNA)

RMA/CJT/rsm

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