MANILA – Malacanang said it is maintaining its no ransom policy, but admits that it cannot stop third parties from negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte revealed in a recent press conference that a P50-million ransom was paid to the ASG for one of its hostages, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
READ: Dureza willing to talk with ASG for release of Norwegian hostage
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, "I'm not privy to that, but I think it was raised by third parties…The ransom was not from the government," he said.
"The government has a no ransom policy. If they (parties representing Sekkingstad) made negotiations, that is their negotiations," he said.
He added that he believes the government is "working quietly" to release others held by the ASG.
On Wednesday night, the military said that the group beheaded one of its hostages, 18-year-old Patrick James Almodovar.
The abductors threatened to behead the teen if the family fails to provide a P1 million ransom by August 24. However, his mother "Annie" said they were only able to raise P100,000.
The ASG last week released Adrina Bongil, a teacher they held captive for a short time.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he ordered the military to "destroy" the ASG.
-- With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News