Plight of hostages worsens as Philippines warns EU envoy

The Philippines government insisted yesterday that the kidnapping of 21 foreign tourists and resort workers by Muslim guerrillas was a domestic issue and warned other countries not to intervene. The arrival of the European Union's most senior diplomat, Javier Solana, who is expected in Manila today, could merely inflame tensions, it said.

Meanwhile, newly released video footage showed the hostages confined to a large cage made of branches and banana leaves, by rebels armed with M-16 rifles, hand grenades and long knives.

The pictures, shot by a television crew that visited the rebels' hide-out in the mountains of Jolo island last weekend, reveal the strain on the hostages of more than a fortnight in captivity. They appeared exhausted and despairing as they begged the Philippine military to suspend operations so that negotiations for their release could progress.

After talking tough on Sunday, the Philippine President, Joseph Estrada, offered an olive branch to the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas yesterday, saying his government would be willing to consider giving additional economic aid to the impoverished southern region. He said that, as a matter of policy, the government did not pay ransoms. But he added: "We're of course prepared to consider community development projects in the area."

Abu Sayyaf, which seized the 21 people from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan, is one of two separatist groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in the south. It has also called for the release of three Muslim extremists from jails in the United States. The government has responded coolly to a demand by the rebels for ambassadors from all of the nations to which their captives belong - France, Germany, Finland, Lebanon, South Africa and Malaysia - to take part in talks. The demand was made in a letter brought out by the journalists who visited their camp.

Ricardo Puno, the presidential spokesman, said: "To put it quite bluntly, our initial reaction to this is not very positive. We must discuss this some more because the principle involved here is whether they should be allowed to specify conditions under which talks will be held."

The rebels yesterday freed a Filipino bank employee who was kidnapped three months ago, in response to his family paying a ransom. Patrick Viray had been held on Jolo, but only briefly with the 21 hostages. He said that his captors wished him good luck before dumping him on a highway. "I was treated well," he said.

The video footage prompted renewed concerns about the health of Renate Wallert, aGerman hostage. Her fellow captives said she suffered from high blood pressure and was in very poor health. A Lebanese hostage, Marie Moarbes, said: "Nobody here can care for her and she's in a very critical situation. She can't take it any more." Another woman is thought to be suffering from a urinary tract infection.

The television crew brought out letters by the hostages to their families. Sonia Wendling and Stephane Loisy, both French, wrote: "We live like animals in the dirt under the trees." The two South Africans, Callie and Monique Strydom, wrote: "We hear no news and fear that nothing is happening ensuring our release."

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star