MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday, April 26, condemned the "inhuman" beheading of Canadian national John Ridsdel at the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.
"The DFA strongly condemns this cruel and inhuman act perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group, and reiterates its strong resolve to oppose terrorism in all of its forms," the DFA said in a statement Tuesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, April 25, confirmed that Ridsdel was beheaded. Before this, Filipino authorities said they had found the head of a Caucasian-looking man on a remote Philippine island.
Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao called it "an act against humanity."
"This incident is tragic and as peace-loving Muslims of Mindanao, as Filipinos tired of senseless deaths and violence, we stand against this," Hataman said in a statement.
Ridsdel, fellow Canadian tourist Robert Hall, Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marites Flor were kidnapped 7 months ago from yachts at a marina on Samal Island near the major city of Davao, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Jolo.
In its statement Tuesday, the DFA said it "extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Mr John Ridsdel and to the Government and people of Canada."
"We join you in grieving for the lives lost in this senseless act of violence," the DFA said.
It added, "We support our brave men in uniform – some of whom have sacrificed life and limb – who remain relentless in rescuing the remaining hostages and bringing these nefarious elements to justice."
Administration presidential candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, who was interior secretary when Ridsdel and companions were kidnapped, said that "all means have been sought to free them."
He added: "This horrific murder should steel us to triple our efforts. Let us not give up hope that the others are rescued, and I appeal for the cooperation and support of our fellow citizens in this mission."
In a statement, the camp of presidential front runner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that he "tried to help in the recovery of Ridsdel and the others" who were kidnapped on Samal Island. "It is truly unfortunate that the kidnappers have taken the life of the Canadian for failing to heed their demand of a large ransom. We join the Canadian government in condemning this heinous act and call for swift justice."
Vice President Jejomar Binay said these "bandits" should be dealt with "immediately and decisively."
Senator Miriam Santiago said the act could be considered a war crime under international criminal law and that the Philippines is “obliged to exert the full force of the law to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Senator Grace Poe said in an interview with reporters in Ilocos Sur that the incident highlights the need for “all-out development” Mindanao, so that less people would be drawn to terrorism.
The Abu Sayyaf is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization that operates from Jolo and nearby islands.
It is blamed for the nation's worst terror attacks, including the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that killed more than 100 people, as well as the kidnappings of dozens of foreigners. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.