Monday July 23, 2018

Duterte: Samal kidnap victims not sacrificial lambs

DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte reiterated on Wednesday the government does not have intention to enter into any form of negotiation with the Abu Sayyaf responsible for the September 21 kidnapping of three foreign nationals and a Filipina inside a luxury resort on the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos).

This was his reaction after a video surfaced the other day on the Internet showing the captors demanding at least P4 billion ransom in exchange for the safe release of their captives.

[READ: Abu Sayyaf demands $60M ransom for 3 foreigners]

Duterte, in an ambush interview with reporters at the sidelines of 3rd Davao Investment Conference (Davao Icon) at SMX Convention Center Wednesday night, said the government will not heed to the demands of the kidnappers and maintains its "no ransom policy."

"The victims are not sacrificial lambs. They should just release the victims for we don't intend to pay any ransom," Duterte said in vernacular.

He said it's no deal when it comes to ransom and there is no plan to engage in whatever negotiation with the Abu Sayyaf.

The first video was released on the Internet last October 13, filmed in a jungle, while the latest video was uploaded in the Internet last Wednesday, November 4.

In the 30-second video, the four kidnap victims identified as Canadians John Ridsel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Hall's girlfriend, Maritess Flor appeared kneeling while in front of a dozen armed men whose faces were covered with masks believed to be Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) equipped with machete.

Ridsel, who was held by the head with a long machete pointing towards his neck by one of the ASG members, pleaded again for help for the immediate release from their captors.

Hall, who was seated beside Ridsel, also asked their government to facilitate their immediate release.

He said: "My name is Robert Hall. I am a Canadian citizen. I am being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf for one billion pesos. These people are very serious and treacherous. Take them seriously. Please help us or get us out of here," Hall said.

The lone Filipina captive was not allowed to speak in the video.

One of the captors in the video said the four victim would be killed if the ransom will not be paid.

No deadline was given by the kidnappers.

Superintendent Antonio Rivera, spokesperson for the Police Regional Office (PRO), said they have already watched the video and stood firm that no negotiation will be made with the ASG.

"As our government had stated, we will not heed to their demands," Rivera told Sun.Star Davao in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

Rivera said the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) "Ocean View" has yet to receive the result on the authenticity of the first video uploaded on Youtube.

With this new development, SITG "Ocean view" would still check by submitting the latest copy of the video in Manila for checking of authenticity, Rivera said.

"Wala pa ang resulta nung unang video. Itong second video naman ay kelangan pa i-submit for validation," Rivera said.

But he reiterated that pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf group is still ongoing.

"Patuloy ang ating operation. Ang primary objective naman natin is to secure the safety of the kidnap victims," he added.

Armed Force Chief of Staff General Hernando Irriberi, in an interview aired on the national television networks, reminded the military troops in Sulu to follow the no ransom policy. (KRP with reports from Ace S. Perez)