Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MANILA902.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA902
2009-04-27 08:37
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #0902/01 1170837
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270837Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3933
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE 0305
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2266
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000902

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2019
TAGS: PGOV MOPS PTER PINR KISL RP
SUBJECT: SEARCH FOR LAST RED CROSS HOSTAGE CONTINUES

REF: A. MANILA 829 SWISS HOSTAGE GAINS FREEDOM)
¶B. MANILA 812 (HOSTAGES: PURSUING NEGOTIATIONS BUT
PREPARING FOR WORST)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney,
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Despite recent rumors that the sole
remaining Red Cross hostage may have been abandoned by his
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnappers, cabinet-level sources
believe Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni is still being held by
his captors in the jungle area around the town of Indanan on
Jolo island. The Philippine government announced a monetary
reward for information on Vagni’s location and authorized the
military to conduct rescue operations. Press reports noted
that Vagni suffers from a painful hernia that may have slowed
his movements, making him a liability for the ASG as it flees
intensive military patrols. However, the lack of actionable
intelligence and the refusal of the two former Red Cross
hostages to cooperate with Philippine authorities have
hampered efforts to ascertain Vagni’s exact location. The
Philippine government has lost contact with the ASG
kidnappers, but five Ulama (Muslim clerics) in Jolo are in
communication with the ASG and are working for Vagni’s safe
release. At a one-on-one breakfast with Foreign Secretary
Alberto Romulo April 27 (septel), the Ambassador expressed
the hope that the crisis would end quickly and peacefully and
called attention to the importance of restoring the
confidence of Jolo civilians in their government’s ability to
provide for their security. END SUMMARY.

EMBOLDENED ASG?
—————

¶2. (C) Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo told the Ambassador
at a one-on-one breakfast April 27 that he hopes the hostage
crisis will be resolved soon, but acknowledged that this
kidnapping episode had already emboldened the ASG. Secretary
Romulo emphasized the importance of U.S.-Philippine
cooperation to prevent the ASG from committing this kind of
crime again. The Ambassador suggested that the Philippine
government, in its response to the ASG, should keep in mind
the need to restore civilian confidence in the government’s
ability to provide security, as well as restore confidence in
the decision-making authority of the Philippine military.
The Ambassador expressed deep concern for Vagni’s safety and
said the U.S. continued to hope for his swift and safe
release.

FALSE HOPES OF RELEASE
———————-

¶3. (C) Unconfirmed press reports emerged late April 23 that
the remaining International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
hostage, 62-year old Italian national Eugenio Vagni, was
abandoned by his captors, although his whereabouts remained
unknown. The reports noted that Vagni suffered from a
painful hernia that may have impeded his ability to keep pace
with the kidnappers. Department of the Interior Assistant
Secretary Brian Yamsuan said that Philippine troops had not
seen Vagni in recent encounters with ASG, leading Yamsuan to
speculate that ASG terrorists had left him behind in their
haste to elude the military’s increasing pressure.
Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa
said that police were attempting to confirm such reports, and
noted that the government was offering a 500,000 Peso (USD
10,300) reward for information on Vagni’s exact location.

MILITARY CONTINUING ITS SEARCH
——————————

¶4. (C) Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno speculated that
Vagni’s condition could prevent him from walking, and that he
might be holed-up with his captors in a jungle hut near the
town of Indanan. Secretary Puno said the search for Vagni
was impeded by the lack of cooperation from the two former
ICRC hostages, who refused to share information about where
the ASG might be hiding the Italian hostage. Joint Special
Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P) reported that the
Philippine military, to fill a void of actionable
intelligence, is sending agents to areas in western Jolo to
collect intelligence on the ASG, confirm Vagni’s location,
and prepare for offensive operations. Hostage crisis
spokesperson Lt. Colonel Edgard Arevalo said that Vagni’s

MANILA 00000902 002 OF 002

health condition may complicate any military rescue operation
if he is unable to run from his captors during the initial
confusion of a rescue attempt. Arevalo stipulated that a
military operation would have to be carefully planned to
account for Vagni’s poor health.
KENNEY

   

 

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