By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday said the Philippines will send two warships to Libya in efforts to secure the release of three kidnapped Filipinos and a South Korean national in the North African country.
South Korea on Thursday has deployed its own warship, the 4,000 tonne Munmu the Great, to Libya in an apparent show of force.
“The Koreans (have) — nagpadala ng barko doon (They sent ships there). You know I’m not joking, magpadala rin ako (I will send, too). If they begin to hurt the three Filipinos there, I will send the frigate,” he said in his speech during the inauguration of the Northern Mindanao Wellness and Rehabilitation Center in Bukidnon.
Mr. Duterte said he will raise the matter in his command conference next week. He further plans to direct members of the Cabinet to “raise the bar higher,” especially on anti-piracy measures.
“I’d like to make (the) announcement in the next Cabinet meeting and the command conference. I want you to come up with modality raising bar higher so — I cannot swallow the — ‘yung mga pirata pasabugin na ninyo (bomb the pirates),” he said.
According to reports, three Filipino engineers and a South Korean national working as technicians at a water plant in Libya were kidnapped early July. Risks for foreign workers have been high in Libya due to the presence of various armed groups, including Islamist militants linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
A video shared on social media last week showed the four kidnapped workers with an armed guard seen behind them. Their captors remained unidentified.
“Kayo ang putulan ko ng ulo… Trabahante lang sa barko tapos kidnapin nila (It’s your heads I will behead….They are just workers then they are kidnapped),” Mr. Duterte said.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Elmer G. Cato said there are continuing efforts by the Department of Foreign Affairs to ensure the kidnapped workers’ “safe and early release.”