MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has rejected the ransom demand of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who had threatened to behead their Indonesian and Malaysian hostages.
"We stand firm on our no ransom policy. 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," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Friday, February 22.
He was responding to reports of a video uploaded on Facebook on February 14, showing an Indonesian hostage, held at knife-point, appealing to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to help secure their release.
According to the Straits Times, the identities of the Abu Sayyaf hostages are Heri Ardiansyah, 19; and Hariadin, 45, both Indonesia. The third hostage is 24-year-old Jari Abdulla, a Malaysian.
The 3 were kidnapped from their fishing trawler in waters near Tawi-Tawi Island on December 5, 2018.
Panelo said the Philippine government is exerting all efforts to rescue the foreigner hostages.
"We are doing our best to secure the release of hostages from the evil hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group," said Panelo.
The government has assigned an entirely new army division to Sulu just to crack down on the Abu Sayyag, a persistent security threat in the Zambasulta area and Mindanao in general.
Supressing the group is among the goal's of Duterte's martial law declaration over the entire Mindanao region. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.