Pressure on Abus led to release of hostages—AFP
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said the pressure that the government has been putting on the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group led to the recent release of its captives.
Echoing the statement of Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the government sought the help of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad on Saturday.
“We do know that much of the pressure that has been applied to the group has caused many of these events to unfold,” Padilla said over ABS-CBN News Channel.
“We did seek the assistance of the MNLF and they have extended their cooperation,” he added.
Sekkingstad, one of the four people captured by the bandit group in Samal last year, was released around 2 p.m. on Saturday. He is set to be presented to the media by President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday.
Dureza said Sekkingstad stayed overnight in the place of MNLF chair Nur Misuari, who he said helped in the release and volunteered to host his stay due to bad weather.
Two of Sekkingstad’s companions, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, were beheaded separately. Hall’s Filipino girlfriend Marites Flor was also freed in June.
MNLF on Sunday said three Indonesian nationals were also freed by the Abu Sayyaf and were already with Misuari in Indanan town. However, Padilla said the AFP has yet to confirm the information from their men on the ground.
“Sec. Dureza is on the island, but he is not yet in possession of any of these kidnap victims,” Padilla added.
The freed victims were identified as Lorens Koten, Theodores Kopon, and a certain Manuel. Sulu-based professor Octavio Dinampo said he had “heard P30 million was paid to the Abu Sayyaf Group.” RAM/rga