DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf group has received a P50-million ransom payment for its Norwegian hostage, Kjartan Sekkingstad, but the group has not yet released him as it reportedly wants to get even “more” money, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday, August 25.
“They kept on postponing it [the release] because of the huge sum of money. Millions. ‘Yung Norwegian, bayad na ‘yon (Ransom has been paid for the Norwegian),” Duterte told reporters on Thursday morning.
Duterte would not respond directly to questions on who paid ransom for Sekkingstad and joked, “Hindi ko alam saang banko (I don’t know which bank).”
Sekkingstad is the only remaining Abu Sayyaf captive from the group of 4 abducted in Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September 2015.
Only one person in that group had been set free, so far – Filipina Marites Flor. Her boyfriend, Robert Hall, and fellow Canadian John Ridsdel were beheaded after the deadline for their ransom payment lapsed in June and April, respectively. The Canadian government is observing a no-ransom policy.
On June 25, Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner went to see Duterte during the release of kidnap victim Flor. The two leaders talked about negotiating for the release of Sekkingstad.
On Wednesday Duterte sent the 69th Army battalion to Jolo, Sulu, as part of his vow to “crush” the Abu Sayyaf, after the group beheaded its teenage captive that day. – Rappler.com