THE Duterte government, while maintaining its "no-ransom policy," is doing its "best" to ensure the safe release of one Malaysian and two Indonesian nationals held captive by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mindanao, Malacañang said Friday, February 22.
"We are doing our best to secure the release of hostages (one Malaysian and two Indonesians) from the evil hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) but we stand firm on our no ransom policy," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo's statement came after Abu Sayyaf terrorists, in a video circulating on social media, threatened to behead the three hostages, unless a ransom is paid for their release.
The video was reportedly uploaded on Facebook by a certain Jim Hundin on February 14.
In the video, ASG members showed two hostages believed to be Indonesians Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and Hariadin, 45.
The two were reportedly kidnapped along with Malaysian hostage Jari Abdulla, 24, from their Sandakan-based fishing vessel in eastern Sabah waters close to Tawi-Tawi Island chain on December 5 last year.
Panelo said the government would exhaust all efforts to save the hostages, but stressed that it would not yield to the Abu Sayyaf members' demands.
He assured the public that the Philippine troops would continue to go after the Abu Sayyaf terrorists to "unleash their might and blow them to kingdom come."
"To give in to the demands of terrorists and other lawless groups would embolden them to engage in more abductions that would allow them to conduct extremist and other criminal activities as they could buy more arms and weapons," the Palace official said.
"The ASG continues to be on the run as a result of the order of the President to the military to crush them. Our security forces are hunting them in the wild forests of Mindanao to unleash their might and blow them to kingdom come," he added.
On Wednesday, February 20, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Indonesia and Malaysia to join forces with the Philippines in combating sea piracy and kidnapping of seafarers. (SunStar Philippines)