$3 Million Paid to Free Burnhams? Governments, New Tribes Mission Say No
No one confirming, many denying Fox News report of Burnham ransom
Fox News reported yesterday that the U.S. government facilitated a privately funded ransom payment of up to $3 million for the release of American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. The sources of the article are not cited, and the rest of the world is wondering where this story came from. "If such a payment was made, it was done without our consent or knowledge," says New Tribes Mission's latest dispatch. "Over the course of the Burnhams' captivity … there have been numerous unverified and unsubstantiated reports originating from unreliable news sources in the Philippines." New Tribes also reiterates that it follows a strict policy against ransoming its missionaries. But New Tribes spokesman Scott Ross tells The Wichita Eagle that the mission agency wouldn't necessarily be the first to know if such a ransom was made. "We're a little out of the loop on operations between the Philippines and the U.S. government," he says, adding that New Tribes is trying to get Fox News to reveal its source. "No one has confirmed this story."
In fact, many people are denying it. "It's not true," said Philippines presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao. "We're not aware of any ransom payments." He also reiterated the government's strict no-ransom policy. Philippine National Security Adviser Roilo Golez issued an even stronger denial. "This is a very wild report," he told Reuters. "We'd like to categorically state this is not true."
"If ransom was paid, how come they are still there?" Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today. The release of the Burnhams, she said, is "up to the Divine Providence. He makes all things beautiful in his time."
U.S. State Department ...