Business as Usual in PHL Consulate Despite Sydney Hostage-Taking

It’s business as usual for the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney as it monitors the hostage-taking incident inside a local cafe there involving an unknown number of hostages.

In a phone interview with GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali” on Monday, Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis said the consulate is about 20 minutes away by foot from Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, where the hostages are being held by a lone assailant.

“As of this time, hindi pa rin ma-ascertain ng mga pulis kung sinu-sino ba ‘yung mga hostages na involved, including ‘yung nationalities, so as of this time hindi pa po natin alam,” she said.

“Tayo ay nagdarasal na walang Filipino na affected,” Louis added.

Louis said local authorities are still in the dark as to the motivation and demands of the lone hostage-taker.

“We are confident naman that the local officials are handling this situation very seriously. The consulate is also in touch with the New South Wales police force tungkol sa development dito,” she said.

The Consul General said it is “business as usual” for them, following directives from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who she noted had urged everyone “to remain calm, to be vigilant, and to go about their business as usual.”

Louis said most employees in nearby offices there have been sent home, and buildings have been cleared shortly before noon there, with authorities on standby as the situation unfolds.

She noted that most Filipinos who may be working in Sydney live in suburban areas, which are 30 minutes to an hour away.

Filipino tourists have been advised not to get near the cafe.

“Kung meron man tayong mga kababayan dito na bumibisita as tourists, then of course I would advise them na ‘wag lumapit sa area na ito to avoid any untoward incident,” said Louis.

(Source: Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/KBK, GMA News)

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