Duterte considers sending warship to Libya for 3 Filipino hostages

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he was considering sending a warship to Libya if gunmen holding Filipino hostages begin to hurt the captives, who have appealed to him for help.

Three Filipino workers abducted along with a South Korean from their work site last month called on Duterte to help end their ordeal  in a video that circulated online Wednesday.

An armed guard was seen squatting behind them in the sand. No group has claimed claimed responsibility for their abduction.

Duterte, in a speech in Bukidnon, said he intends to discuss the sending of the warship with security officials during a command conference scheduled on Aug. 7.

"If they begin to hurt yung tatlo, magpadala ako ng frigate," Duterte said.

(Translation: If they begin to hurt the three, I will send a frigate.)

He did not elaborate, but his statement comes after South Korea's announcement on Thursday that it has deployed a warship to Libya.

The deployment was an 'apparent show of force' to help secure the freedom of the South Korean hostage taken along with the Filipinos.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday confirmed the three Filipinos seen in the footage are technicians who were abducted by unidentified armed men on July 6.

"The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli has confirmed that the three Filipinos shown there are the three technicians who were taken by armed men from their work site some 500 kilometers from Tripoli," DFA spokesperson Elmer Cato said in a message.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed there are government efforts to secure the release of the Filipino nationals, but plans have yet to be carried out.

"(Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello and I were supposed to fly to Libya," Roque told reporters in a press briefing Friday.

"But it was cancelled because of security considerations. But we took steps to prepare for the trip," he added.

Last July, DFA confirmed five Filipinos were abducted in Libya and Iraq on separate events, and that the department had commenced working with authorities to rescue the detained nationals.