THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Sunday that it is still validating the reported beheading of another Abu Sayyaf hostage in Sulu.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said troops of the Western Mindanao Command are currently in the process of confirming the information that Noel Besconde was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) after his family failed to pay ransom money in exchange for his freedom.

On Saturday, Besconde was reportedly beheaded by ASG led by its sub-leader Almujer Yadah in barangay Tugas, Patikul Sulu.

Besconde, the captain of FB Ramona 2, was kidnapped along with his three crewmen on December 20 at the Celebes Sea.

The military said they are "continuously conducting intensified operations" against the rebel group, including the launching of airstrikes to "pressure" them to release their hostages.

Earlier, AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año said the terrorist group was still in possession of 27 hostages consisting of 20 foreigners (Indonesians, Vietnamese and Dutch) and seven Filipinos.

Last week, an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader was killed in an encounter with the government troops when they penetrated Bohol province.

The group, according to the military, was planning to conduct kidnapping in Central Visayas. (SunStar Philippines)