The decapitated bodies of two Vietnamese nationals were recovered in Basilan, Wednesday.
Authorities identified the victims as Hoang Thong ang Hoang Va Hai, 2 of the 6 crew members of the MV Royal 16 cargo vessel, who were allegedly abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in November 2016.
The remains will undergo forensic investigation in coordination with the Vietnamese embassy, Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said.
The Armed Forces said the killing was the Abu Sayyaf's attempt to show that the terrorist group still had enough forces.
"Ito ay pagpapakita ng lakas pero hindi na naman sila ganun kalakas. Propaganda, in short," Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said in a press briefing.
"The pressure that the ASG is experiencing from the forces that we have there is a positive indication that their forces are almost spent kaya sila nagga-ganito kasi wala na silang makuhang pakinabang sa mga hostages na kanilang na-abduct," he said.