MANILA – President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday he apologized to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after militants who pledged allegiance to Islamic State jihadists beheaded their two Canadian hostages in the strife-torn south.
In a rare visit to Jolo island, the Abu Sayyaf’s traditional stronghold, Aquino said military operations have been adjusted to make sure that the group’s other hostages will be rescued.
“Humingi ako ng paumanhin sa Prime Minister ng Canada dahil hindi lang isa, dalawa na sa kanilang mga kababayan ang namatay,” Aquino told reporters.
Aquino said he thanked Trudeau for respecting the Philippine government’s no ransom policy in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf, a ragtag group of several hundred bandits who gained international notoriety for ransoming off foreigners.
A head believed to be that of Canadian Robert Hall was recovered in Jolo earlier this week, two months after his compatriot and fellow hostage, John Ridsdel was executed.
The two Canadians were seized from a marina off Samal island in September last year, alongside Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
Aquino said he updated Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on efforts to rescue Sekkingstad.