Palace clarifies: P50M ransom paid to Abus not from gov’t
The P50-million ransom paid to the Abu Sayyaf bandits for the freedom of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad was not from the government, a Palace official said Friday.
“I’m not privy to that. But it was, I think it was also raised by third parties, not from the government. Ransom not from the government,” Presidential Spokesperson Erneto Abella said in a news briefing.
In a press briefing in Davao City on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte accidentally spilled that P50 million had been paid to Abu Sayyaf group for the freedom of Sekkingstad, who had yet to be freed by his captors.
Despite the apparent slip of the tongue of Duterte, Abella said the government maintains its “no ransom policy” and said the administration was not encouraging others to pay ransom money.
“We don’t encourage. If they make [negotiation], that is their negotiation,” he said.
The Palace official said government forces were “working quietly” for the release of Sekkingstad
“I believe they are working quietly,” he said.
After learning about the beheading of 18-year-old Patrick James Almodovar, who was kidnapped by the Ajang-Ajang faction of the Abu Sayyaf in Asturias village, Jolo, Duterte has reiterated his order to the military to find the lair of the Abu Sayyaf and destroy the bandits.
“Destroy them. Period,” he said. RAM/rga