The Jakarta Post
The government has stepped back from providing updates on the hostage situation involving 14 Indonesian crewmen captured by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines, as information shared with the public could possibly put the safety of the hostages at risk.
The group of hard-liners, whose leader has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) movement, is understood to closely monitor foreign media - an act that is believed to influence their movement accordingly, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir.
"That is why we are being very careful with the information that gets released to the media related to any activities, steps taken and ongoing communications," Arrmanatha said.
The ministry official assured that there was constant communication between the Indonesian and Philippine governments, saying that either verbal or written exchanges occurred on a daily basis between foreign ministers Retno LP Marsudi and Jose Rene Almendras.
"We are informed on all developments regarding plans on any action that will be taken so we can ensure the condition of the 14 hostages and that they are safe," he continued, adding that the government had occasionally communicated with the hostages.
As previously reported, the Philippine Constitution does not allow Indonesian troops to be directly involved in rescuing hostages held by a terror group.
"Communication and cooperation are good with the Philippine government. The safety of the 14 hostages continues to be our main priority," said Arrmanatha.
The Philippine military came under increased pressure recently to rescue more than 20 foreign hostages after extremist captors beheaded a Canadian man.
However, the troops face a dilemma in how to succeed without endangering the remaining captives.
Arrmanatha said none of the Indonesian hostages were at the location where the execution of Canadian national John Ridsdel occurred.
All the Indonesian crewmen, who were kidnapped on two separate hijacking incidents, are also reportedly constantly moved around by the captors.
The spokesman emphasized that the government is "very up to date with what is happening on site", assuring that all the men are alive and well. (bbn)
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