Palace rejects Abu Sayyaf’s ransom demand

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2019 03:28 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2019 01:53 AM

MANILA - Malacañang on Friday rejected the ransom demand of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, who recently threatened to behead its three foreign captives.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government is doing its best to secure the release of the hostages, one Malaysian and two Indonesians, stressing that “we stand firm on our no ransom policy.”

“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 said in a statement.

The Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead the trio, identified in a Straits Times report as Indonesians Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and Hariadin, 45, and Malaysian Jari Abdulla.

The three were abducted from their Sandakan-based fishing trawler in eastern Sabah last Dec. 5.

Panelo said the Abu Sayyaf Group continues to be “on the run as a result of the order of the President to the military to crush them.”

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

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government troops to crush the Abu Sayyaf in the wake of the twin blasts that hit a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu last month.

The government has since taken custody of five suspects in the blast.