Palace maintains no ransom policy amid Abu Sayyaf threats

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Malacañang on Friday, February 22, stood firm on its “no ransom policy” despite the hostage-taking of three foreign nationals by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Mindanao.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that issuing ransom to the terrorist group would do more harm than good as it would finance their acquisition of guns, bombs and weapons.

“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,” Panelo told reporters on Friday.

The Abu Sayyaf released a video online showing the hostages with their eyes covered by black cloth while their hands were tied behind their backs. They cried out for the Indonesian and Malaysian governments to rescue them from the abduction.

One member of the terrorist group held a bolo, a knife-like weapon, on the neck of one hostage as they spoke to the camera. The terrorists threatened to kill the two Indonesian nationals seen in the video and the Malaysian national, who was not in the video, if not ransomed.

Despite the covered faces, the two victims in the video were believed to be Indonesians, 19-year-old Heri Ardiansyah and 45-year-old Hariadin. The Malaysian national who was not in the video is identified as Jari Abdullah, 24.

Panelo maintained that the military forces and government officials would be able to locate the whereabouts of the terrorist group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).

“Our security forces are hunting them in the wild forests of Mindanao to unleash their might and blow them to kingdom come,” the spokesperson said.

According to The Straits Times, the two Indonesians were kidnapped together with the Malaysian hostage from their Sandakan-based fishing trawler in Eastern Sabah waters close to Tawi Tawi on December 5 of last year.

“The ASG continues to be on the run as a result of the order of the President to the military to crush them,” Panelo explained.

The government is positive that the militants are holding nearly a dozen captives, mostly foreigners. Thus, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sought the help of nearby nations, Indonesia and Malaysia, to aid Philippine forces in eliminating the crime on the high seas.

“Standing firm on no ransom policy. The government forces will hunt them in the wild forest of Mindanao,” Panelo said.