Military Assures White Christmas for Missionaries

Sunday, September 9, 2001

Noel T. Tarrazona
Philippine correspondent for ASSIST News Service

BASILAN, PHILIPPINES (ANS) -- A high rank military official here who spoke on condition of anonymity told ASSIST News Service that American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Bunrham will have a white Christmas as they will have their freedom from their captors before Christmas.

When asked why he refused to be quoted, the military general said it might affect their rescue operations once he gives detailed information of the rescue efforts.

The missionary couple who will be rescued anytime, according to military sources here, was abducted on May 27 by the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group believed to have links with Osama bin Laden.

As this developed, Lt. Gen Roy Cimatu of the Southern Command admitted that he has received surrender feelers from top Abu Sayyaf leaders through their loved ones.

Cimatu responded that he would only stop military offensives in this Province if they will release the hostages first and surrender (to the government) without any conditions.

In a related development, President Gloria Arroyo is in the United states and is scheduled to meet with U.S. President George Bush this week to discuss terrorism problems in the Philippines.