Various Options Still Available

Safety of Indonesians Held Hostage Is Priority

JAKARTA, KOMPAS — The Indonesian government is continuing to work with the Philippine government to free 10 Indonesian citizens being held hostage. There are still many options that can be taken and the government will continue to prioritize the safety of its citizens.

Soldiers from the Indonesian Military's (TNI) Quick Reaction Strike Force (PPRC) stand by at a ceremony presided over by Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) commander Lt. Gen. Edy Rahmayadi in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, on Saturday (2/4/2016). Edy said that if needed, the PPRC could be deployed to free 10 Indonesian citizens currently being held hostage in Philippine waters. Kompas/LUKAS ADI PRASETYASoldiers from the Indonesian Military's (TNI) Quick Reaction Strike Force (PPRC) stand by at a ceremony presided over by Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) commander Lt. Gen. Edy Rahmayadi in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, on Saturday (2/4/2016). Edy said that if needed, the PPRC could be deployed to free 10 Indonesian citizens currently being held hostage in Philippine waters.

After reporting on the latest developments on the hostage situation to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marzuki said that of all the available options, the government would still take into consideration the safety of the citizens held hostage. "At all times, I always renew my information and always report it to the President. But, I'm sorry, the latest report cannot be revealed to the public," Retno said.

Apart from reporting on the development of the Indonesian citizens being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines, Retno also reported on the development of a hostage situation involving Indonesian citizens working as crew members on a Malaysian ship. "The Indonesian consulate has confirmed that the three Indonesians are now in Tawau, Malaysia. The consulate staff have met with the three Indonesians in person and they were in good health."

The government, Retno said, would also assist them in accessing their rights. "We will also ensure that the rights of the Indonesian citizens are fulfilled by the ship owner according to the law," she said.

Like Retno, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan also said that there were a number of options for the resolution of the hostage case. "I don't need to state them. Communication with them is good. The company is willing to pay. We cannot disclose details," he said.

Military engagement

According to Luhut, the Indonesian military cannot engage directly in the situation because the Philippine constitution does not allow that to occur. Indonesia can only provide Special Forces assistance.

Mulawarman Military Command VI spokesman Lt. Col. Inf. Andi Gunawan said that after a joint training of the military's Fast Reaction Strike Force in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, the next training sessions would be internal and closed off. Trainings will be completed by each unit in several locations. Tarakan Airbase commander Col. Umar Fathurrohman said a number of aircraft had been prepared at Tarakan Airbase.

(AHA/ONG/PRA/REN)

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