Jordanian journalist, 2 Filipinos missing in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/15 June) – A Jordanian journalist and his two Filipino crew members who went to Sulu province to do a documentary about Mindanao, have been missing since June 12, police officials disclosed Friday.

Missing were Baker Atyani, 43, Al Arabiya News Channel bureau chief for Southeast Asia, Rolando Letrero, 22, an audioman, and photographer Ramelito Vela, 39.

They arrived in Jolo, the capital of Sulu, last Monday purposely to do a documentary about Mindanao and had checked in at the Sulu State College Hostel, according to Sulu police director Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra.

The Al Arabiya News Channel, which is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), was launched on March 3, 2003 and is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Freyra said they were last seen leaving the Sulu State College Hostel around 5:45 a.m. Tuesday on board a white multicab and have not returned since.

Chief Supt. Manuel Barcena, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO)-West director disclosed that they were confirmed missing after police and military personnel inspected on Wednesday their two rented rooms at the hostel.

“They were not in their rooms but several personal items were left behind,” Barcena said.

He said he has ordered to trace the ownership of the multicab with plate number LLC-238 that fetched the trio from the hostel.

Freyra said they could not be contacted through their mobile phones.

He, however, said “they might have intentionally shut off their phones” as they have not yet ruled that the three were kidnapped.

He said the three did not coordinate with the authorities despite being advised by Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, who met them at the airport, to ask for security escorts.

He said they even declined the offer of Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin for security. (MindaNews)