Efforts to rescue Burnhams, negotiate for their release continue
There have been many reports lately out of the Philippines about the state of hostage missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham and the efforts to free them. But they should all be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism and ample amounts of prayer. One week before the one-year anniversary of their abduction, there are lots of promises but little probability that they'll be released.

On Tuesday, the Philippine military reported that the Abu Sayyaf might release Gracia Burnham "perhaps … for humanitarian reasons." She reportedly has a urinary tract infection. "What we have gathered from the ground is that the health of Gracia is deteriorating but we are still verifying this," Lieutenant-Colonel Danilo Servando told reporters.

Martin Burnham isn't doing so well, either. "We are receiving information that Martin Burnham is sick and suffering from malaria," Col. Alexander Aleo told the BBC. "The Abu Sayyaf holding Martin is worried that he might die an untimely death." The problem in the past has been that the Philippine military refuses to negotiate at all with the militant Muslim Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, so even getting medicine to the Burnhams would have been forbidden. Apparently the military has lightened up, and will allow "a private group" to try to get medicine to the hostages.

Despite the Philippine government's resolute stance against even talking to the Abu Sayyaf, negotiations for the Burnhams' release continue, several media outlets are reporting. But it's unclear exactly what's happening. "Despite the government's no negotiation policy, a military official yesterday bared efforts by the New Tribes Mission … to establish links with the couple's Abu Sayyaf captors for negotiation," The Manila Tribune reported Thursday. The military rejected any involvement "because the military's name might be placed in the bad light again," the paper reported. The Philippine Inquirer has a similar report.

Meanwhile, military efforts to free the Burnhams continue, and both the Philippine and U.S. militaries insist there won't be any American involvement. "We want to see the Burnhams free, but the rescue of the Burnhams is not our role there," said. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis.

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