President Benigno Aquino III has apologized to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after two of his countrymen were beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.
In a live broadcast of Aquino’s press conference on Wednesday, June 15, the outgoing leader also thanked Canada for standing pat on its “no-ransom policy”, which Trudeau reiterated after John Ridsdel and Robert Hall were executed on April 26 and June 13 respectively when the Abu Sayyaf demand for ransom was not met.
Ridsdel, Hall, a Norwegian and a Filipina were abducted by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in September 2015.
In explaining the Philippine government’s “no ransom policy” position against terrorist groups, Aquino sad in Filipino:
“If we refuse to pay ransom, interest in the group will wane. If we pay ransom, the problem will be bigger,” said Aquino.
Aquino said there was “refinement” in military operations which he hoped would lead to the rescue of the two remaining hostages: Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Maritess Flor.
“What we are looking at here is that there is a group kidnapping people who, are then, turned over to the ASG, and a negotiator acting as a third party.)
Aquino said that aside from pursuing the ASG, “we have arrested some whom witnesses identified. We are waiting for a warrant for kidnapping to be served”.
The President emphasized that there were “efforts” to neutralize ASG members in Basilan and Jolo, Sulu where the heads of Hall and Ridsdel were found.