Abu Sayyaf sticks to Oct 17 ‘beheading’ deadline for German hostages


ZAMBOANGA CITY: The two German nationals being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu have appealed to the German and Philippine governments to “do everything” to ensure their safe release.

“I hope they do everything they can do to release us as soon as possible because it’s really getting worse down here everyday,” Henrite Dielen, wife of another hostage, Dr. Stefan Viktor Okonek, said in a phone interview aired live over RMN Zamboanga last Saturday.

Dielen said her husband’s health problems have been getting serious. “There are lots of mosquitoes and I try to keep him away from all of everything. He is sleeping a lot and I try to keep him covered and warmed and that is all that I can do,” Dielen said.

Okonek, who was also given a chance to speak in the interview, said he came to the Philippines for vacation, “but the contrary to having a holiday is what I experience now.”

“I beg for the governments, the people of the Philippines to try hard to get me free,” he said.

“I don’t have any medicine and my situation is not better than before. I am very weak and I am imprisoned and I cannot do what they like me to do,” he added.

Okonek and Dielen disappeared in Palawan in April.

The Abu Sayyaf said it would behead Okonek on October 17 if their demands for a P250-million ransom, the withdrawal of US troops in Syria and Iraq and a call to the Philippine government to support the global coalition of ISIS, were not met.

Abu Rami, who claimed to be the spokesperson of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, refused to allow the two Germans to be interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and instead demanded a “live coverage so that the world will hear our words and the appeal of the two Germans.”

Rami, in a phone interview, said “no one from either Philippine or German governments communicated with us or with the two Germans.”

“If the Philippine government would like to maintain a good image before the world’s eyes, better deal with us or actions will put the government to shame,” Rami added.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told the Inquirer by phone that they were taking the threats and the lives of 12 hostages, including five foreigners, held by armed groups in Mindanao, seriously.

“We have deployed K9 companies to support the ongoing security operations in support of the law enforcement carried out by the Philippine National Police in the province of Sulu,” Cabunoc said.

He said the K9 tracking teams can facilitate a more secure operational environment “both for the operating troops and the hostages that are believed to being held by the Abu Sayyaf bandits.”

“We can now easily track them down and thereby, minimize collateral damage like friendly fires or crossfires,” Cabunoc added.

Also held as hostage are two Malaysians – Marine Kons Zakiah Aliep, 26, and Sabah fishbreeder Chan Sai Chiun, 32 – by a different faction of the Abu Sayyaf led by Al-Habsi. Ransom demands of RM5mil and RM3mil have been set for Kons Zakiah and Chan respectively.