Jordanian journalist shooted documentary about Abu Sayyaf:It was reported that Jesse Robredo, the Interior and Local Government Secretary said that Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration should ban Baker Abdulla Atyani, the Jordanian journalist from returning to the country once he surfaced. Robredo claimed that Atyani did not disclose his plans to interview Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Mindanao with his two Filipino crew members.FROM World News Asia ]

[PHOTO - In this photo taken on June 11, 2012, Baker Abdulah Atyani, poses by the sea wall in Jolo, the capital of the island province of Sulu during his taping of his story of the island, a hotbed of Muslim militants.(AP)]

MANILA, JUNE 22, 2012 (TRIBUNE) Written by Fernan J. Angeles - Malacañang ruled out any rescue plans for the Jordanian journalist who was first reported as abducted along with two Filipino companions as his TV crewmen, saying the government knows exactly where he is amid suspicion that the foreign newsman is merely using media work as passport in his agenda outside being a journalist.

The government is also seriously considering forcible deportation and possibly blacklisting Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, on whom the government had attri-buted a lot of trouble it had gotten into.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted in an ambush interview with Palace reporters that the government hasn’t made any effort in locating and rescuing Atyani of the Dubai-based Al Arabiya news network, because there isn’t anyone (apparently referring to Atyani himself) asking for it.

An irate Robredo said he will personally recommend the Jordanian to be included in the blacklisted roster over what seemed to him as direct deception on the Philippine government.

He said that a recommendation to the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration would have been submitted a few days after Atyani re-surfaces.

“We’re not looking for him because we know where he is. He is somewhere in Patikul, Sulu. Had we been asked for help, then we would have acted accordingly. But as it is, there isn’t any. In fact, Atyani in one of the conversations he had with Gov. Tan, even took responsibility over his two Filipino crewmen”, Robredo said when asked what was keeping the government from sending help to locate and safely bring back the foreign newsman and his two Filipino crewmen who were last seen Tuesday last week at the hotel where he stayed.

He added that the three-man news team whom he claims to be in the custody of the ASG, are safe — “They’re not being harmed. They’re not being threatened”.

But even after getting an update which indicated the Atyani’s Filipino news crew being safe, Robredo still expressed concern over the two local media workers in captivity.

“I believe it’s just one media man interviewing someone taking his sweet time. If he wanted to stay longer, he should have thought about his two Filipino companions who took the risk of coming with him in a place known to be home of hostile bandits. They’re just after work. These men shouldn’t have been made to stay, and that’s what makes me more worried, aside from them being Bicolanos like me,” he said.

Robredo claims that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is awaiting any sign of distress from the group for police units to start mapping out rescue plans but, thus far, there hasn’t been any.

“More important to us is Atyani’s two Filipino companions. We are trying hard to establish contact with them. Without going to the details of it, there is already an initial communication with them that’s why I’m definite that they are safe, they are not threatened. My impression is the Jordanian journalist is taking responsibility for the two of them”, Robredo said, adding that Atyani is simply taking his sweet time in the company of the outlawed Abu Sayaff group somewhere in Patikul town in Sulu. |

The DILG chief also said that Atyani, known for his many exploits of managing to get through the biggest terrorist organizations in the world for an interview with its leader, has been in constant contact with Sulu Governor Tan, who in turn informs them of the developments in his locality in Mindanao.

Atyani, Robredo added, seemed to have developed a “closeness” with the ASG leaders with whom he has had countless interviews since year 2000. The Jordanian newsman is working as an international correspondent for a Dubai-based television news network.

When asked for the grounds, he categorically pointed at what he referred to as an “element of deception” when he didn’t tell local authorities that he and his team were planning to meet the bandit group.

He also called on Atyani to re-surface along with his crew members — camera operator Ramelito Vela, 39, and audio operator Rolando Letrero, 22, — who have been missing since June 12 when they supposedly met the Abu Sayyaf for an interview.
On Tuesday, Sulu police provincial director Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra said they suspect that Atyani could be working as a “conduit” for the al Qaeda terror network.

Freyra said Atyani has been in the country around three or four times before.

The Palace is also not amenable to a prolonged stay of the Jordanian in the country.

President Aquino echoed Robredo in charging Atyani as deceiving the government. An irate President likewise said that he would personally want to hear whatever Atyani has to say on why he misled authorities whom he didn’t disclose of plans to see ASG for an interview.

“He should explain and asked on what he’s been doing. Get to the bottom as to the logic of his dealings with the ASG, in a sense —let me just be clear on why is he in touch with a terrorist force in the country and purposely misleading government authorities trying to secure him. That has to be addressed,” Aquino told reporters after attending the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Convention on Local Governance.

More than non-disclosure, Aquino said that the act (which constitutes being undesirably ungrateful to the hospital Filipino host) endangered the lives of his Filipino crew.

“The safety especially of his crew might have been —by force of their employment—put into the situation na uncertain… We have to make sure that they are all safe,” he said.

Aquino allayed fears of the local journalists adding that every step in getting the Jordanian national out of the Philippines for good, will have to be done through the proper method.

“Atyani did not behave as a guest of the country should”, the Malacañang chief executive went on to aver.

“At the end of the day, this guy has to actually address the issues of why he has put so many people in danger and put the country’s reputation in danger. He has not behaved as a guest of the country should, seemingly. But of course, we will wait for the proper investigation,” he added.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however said that Aytani has committed no crime, and cannot be charged or deported.


Manila journalist arranged Atyani’s interviews By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief Published: 13:38 June 20, 2012

[PHOTO - Missing Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani (L) of the Al Arabiya news network shakes hands with Governor Sakur Tan as he arrived in Jolo, Sulu island, southern Philippines June 11, 2012. Atyani and his 2 filipino crew went missing in a restive southern island, where al-Qaeda linked Islamist milatants are actively operating, but police are still checking whether they are abducted. Picture taken June 11, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer (PHILIPPINES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MEDIA)]

Asia bureau chief of Dubai-based Al Arabiya news channel Atyani is missing since June 12

Manila: A Manila-based Muslim journalist has arranged the schedule of interviews for missing Jordanian broadcast journalist Baker Atyani, the Asia bureau chief of Dubai-based Al Arabiya news channel, who was been reported missing since June 12.

Julmunir Jannaral, a correspondent of Manila Times, a daily broadsheet in English, said that on May 16, Bing Formento, formerly of Philippine daily Inquirer and now with DZRH, a radio station, sent him a text message saying that Perry Pimentel of Broadcast City and SFX Production would get in touch with him about arranging interview with Muslim leaders in Manila and in Sulu, in the southern Philippines.

“On May 17, Joyce Reyes [of SFX Production] sent me [a text] message about contacting Muslim leaders to be interviewed by foreign journalist Bakr Atyani. The south and east Asia bureau chief of Al Arabiya News Channel based in Dubai,” said Jannaral.

When Atyani arrived in Manila on June 4, he had a full schedule, said Jannaral.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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