PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, February 22, sought the intervention of Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari to save the three foreign nationals held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
Duterte made the remark after ASG bandits threatened to behead a Malaysian and two Indonesian fishermen if ransoms are not paid.
"I would appeal to Nur Misuari to stop it and tell the Abu Sayyaf that, 'Look, we're talking. Don't take it hard for us to seek peace in our land,'" the President said in a chance interview with Palace reporters after an event held at the Malacañan Palace.
In a video uploaded on Facebook, Abu Sayyaf terrorists threatened to decapitate two hostages believed to be Indonesians Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and Hariadin, 45, unless a ransom is paid for their release.
The two Indonesian nationals were reportedly kidnapped, together 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, 2018.
The President's statement came amid his plan to hold a dialogue with Misuari to seek peace in strife-torn Mindanao.
Misuari, whose bailiwick is Jolo, Sulu, previously assisted the Duterte administration in the rescue of other hostages abduected by the Abu Sayyaf.
Earlier Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that while the Duterte government is maintaining its "no-ransom policy," it is doing its "best" to ensure the safe release of the three foreign hostages.
"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, but we stand firm on our no ransom policy," Panelo said in a statement. (SunStar Philippines)