MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said that government authorities are searching for a foreign TV reporter and his two Filipino crew members who have been missing since June 12 in Jolo, Sulu.
In a media statement, the NUJP said that police authorities identified the missing persons as Baker Atyani, a Jordanian working for the Al Arabiya news channel based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Atyani hired Ramelito Vela, 39, and Rolando Letrero, 22, who are both based in Manila, to serve as cameraman and audioman, respectively.
According to police reports, the three arrived in Jolo on June 11 and Atyani was with Jolo Mayor Hussein Amin until 9 pm, added the NUJP statement signed by its Secretary General Rowena Paraan and JB Deveza, the coordinator of the NUJP Mindanao Safety Office.
NUJP said that the receptionist at the Sulu State College Hotel where the three were staying said Atyani and two Filipinos returned to the hotel at 11 pm on June 11.At 5:45 am of June 12, the three were fetched from the hotel by a man driving a multicab. They have not returned to the hotel since, prompting the owner to contact the police.
Atyani had been to Sulu several times in 2000 when the Abu Sayyaf Group brought its Sipadan hostages, mostly foreign tourists and Filipino workers, to Sulu, added the NUJP, and he (Atyani) reportedly returned to Jolo to do a TV documentary in the area. Mayor Amin offered security for the journalists but they declined, police said.
As of press time, it was not clear whether the three were abducted by armed groups operating in Sulu or have gone somewhere else without notifying the hotel. #