The online news portal of TV5
(UPDATE 2 - 5:35 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will recommend that foreign journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani be banned from entering the Philippines.
DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo told reporters on Wednesday that once Atyani and his two Filipino television crew come back from the Abu Sayyaf's lair, he would ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Immigration not to allow Atyani to go back to the country.
Robredo claimed that there was an "element of deception" on the part of Atyani because he did not disclose his plan to go to the camp of the Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group.
Based on the information received by the DILG chief, Atyani and the two Filipino journalists are safe in Patikul, Sulu where they are doing a "Mission Impossible" type of documentary.
Because the three are safe, the government no longer needs to carry out a search and rescue mission, according to Robredo.
But DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said the government should be more cautious in making statements about Atyani.
De Lima said the State should "not make an issue out of it because responsibility din natin na protektahan ang mga dayuhan [it is also our responsibility to protect foreigners]."
On banning Atyani, the DOJ chief said that there has to be a basis because "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."
When asked about possible laws violated by Atyani by not coordinating with authorities or if he violated the Human Security Act, De Lima said "coordination is more of policy, administrative guidelines that as of now, I am not sure where these are written — maybe written protocols by the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)."
Atyani a hostage?
According to Mindanao Satate University Professor Octavio Dinampo, a former Abu Sayyaf kidnap victim, it is likely that Atyani and his group have been made a hostage by the terrorist group.
He said that it could be possible that just like what had happed to him and the group of journalist Ces Drilon before they were held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf in June 2008, Atyani and his group could have been lured by the terrorist group to go to their camp for an exclusive story.
"They could have fallen to the same trap like we did...They lure journalists with the promise of scoops, big stories," Dinampo told News5.
Dinampo said they were only freed by the Abu Sayyaf after they paid a P20 million to cover for their 10-day board and lodging.
He believes that the Abu Sayyaf maintains such method of operation to raise funds.
"[It is] designed to sustain their men with cigarrettes, food, and guns using ransom money," said Dinampo. - with Romsanne Ortiguero