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Abu Sabaya interview transcript

Translated transcript of responses from Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya to interview questions on Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), Friday morning, June 1, 2001

Sabaya: We were forced to exchange fire a while ago…the execution may push through.

On the hostages' whereabouts at the time of the interview:

Sabaya: I don't know. I'm not with the captives. I'm 100 meters away from them.

(Sound of gunfire in the background)

Sabaya: We have more hostages now. We have 30 hostages now. We abducted 10 fishermen when we left Palawan on the way to Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi. So we can't be blamed now if we make good what we said earlier that we will execute the hostages one by one. It's up to you.

(Another burst of gunfire in the backgorund)

Perhaps Gloria (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) thinks we can be frightened. All the more we'll keep adding hostages, even if they reach a thousand.

On any U.S. assistance in the hostage crisis:

Sabaya: We're raring to fight. We want to fight with the U.S.. Tell them to reinforce their troops, if they want. Maybe they think we'll be frightened. Well, all I can say is it's up to the government. They think that they can beat us in a gun battle. They think we will bend. We would relish dying than surrendering to them. Remember.

On food and medical supplies:

Sabaya: Food? There's no problem about food and medicine. If the rebels die, should there be need to treat them?

On the release of any hostages:

Sabaya: Well, we can't talk about any release at this time. The government might think we're afraid of them. The fight goes on. The military thought that the hostages were our comrades, so two of them were killed. But I can't tell you their nationalities nor identities. What we will do now, perhaps today, we will expect the execution but we cannot tell how many and what time. Tell the government not to worry. We will start the execution to help them. We will help the government so that it won't get exhausted in sacrificing the hostages. The gunfire has subsided. If we were the one overrun, I won't be able to answer you.

On arrival of U.S. troops for joint exercises in the Philippines:

Sabaya: Welcome to the party. If the U.S. troops come here, they're the ones we want to fight.

On the Philippine government's offer of a reward for their capture:

Sabaya: Well, the government is so stingy. Do you know how much damage we are causing the Philippine government? Billions. All I can say is why we are banking on ransoms. Because if we talk about our rights, we won't be heard anyway. So there, our last option is money to prepare for the fight against the Philippine government. But remember this, you can't solve this with arms. How many presidents have passed: Ramos, Erap (Joseph Estrada), and now Gloria (Arroyo). She's just a woman. The Philippine government does not value the lives of the hostages, what more ours?

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