The government will send one of the Philippine Navy’s three frigates to Libya as a show of strong resolve if any of the three Filipinos taken hostage along with a South Korean is harmed, President Duterte said in a speech yesterday.
During the inauguration of the Northern Mindanao Wellness and Rehabilitation Center in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Mr. Duterte indicated the possibility of a navy deployment after learning that South Korea sent a warship to pressure abductors to release its national.
“If they begin to hurt the Filipinos there, I will send a frigate,” Mr. Duterte said in his speech.
The Philippine Navy has three frigates, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Andres Bonifacio, which are all decommissioned US Coast Guard vessels.
The President said he will make a final decision on the planned deployment of a warship after the Cabinet meeting and command conference next week in Malacañang Palace.
Command conference set
“I have (a) command conference on 7 August after the Cabinet meeting. I’ll bring it up,” Duterte said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said government efforts in the Libya abduction included the sending of a very high-level delegation to help rescue the kidnapped Filipinos.
“Are there efforts? Yes and it involves very high level members of government to rescue our nationals in Libya,” Roque said at a media briefing in Malaybalay, Bukidnon at the sidelines of the inauguration of the rehabilitation center for drug dependents.
He, however, said there is no information yet on the status of the rescue efforts.
High-level mission aborted
Roque said he and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III were supposed to fly to Libya but it was canceled due to security considerations.
“But we took steps to prepare for the trip and it was expressly to rescue the Filipinos kidnapped by bandits in Libya,” he said.
Media reports said the three Filipinos, along with a South Korean, are being held captive in Libya for 27 days already by an unidentified armed group.
The four were reportedly working at a water plant in Jabal Hasouna in south eastern Libya when they were kidnapped by the bandits on 6 July.
A video clip posted on social media showed the victims asking for help.
The abductors have yet to contact the government or the water plant company.