Palace condoles with Canadian government, family of beheaded hostage

Malacañang on Tuesday expressed its condolences to the Canadian government and the family of mining executive John Ridsdel, who was killed by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Ridsdel was among the four hostages who were abducted by ASG bandits on September 21 last year from the Holiday Ocean View resort on Samal Island, Davao del Norte. Also seized were Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marithes Flor.

“We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Canadian government and to the family of Mr. John Ridsdel, who died in the hands of the ASG bandits,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

The ASG had threatened to behead one of the hostages on April 25 at 3 p.m. if the government fails to pay the ransom demanded by the bandits. The initial demand was P1 billion each for the hostages but the amount was reduced to P300 million.

Reports said the severed head of Ridsdel, which was inside a plastic bag dropped by two men on a motorcycle, was found by residents in the center of Jolo town, five hours after the expiry of the ransom deadline.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was outraged upon learning of the killing.

Secretary Coloma assured that military and law enforcement operations in Sulu will continue.

“There will be no let-up in the resolute efforts of the joint PNP-AFP task group in pursuing intensive and wide-ranging military and law enforcement operations to neutralize these lawless elements and thwart further threats to peace and security,” he said, adding that President Benigno S. Aquino III “has directed the security forces to apply the full force of the law to bring these criminals to justice”.

President Aquino on Monday ordered Acting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief, Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez, to conduct appropriate military and law enforcement operations to rescue the four hostages.

The President also instructed local authorities to cooperate with the AFP-PNP Task Force and ensure the safety of citizens in the affected communities. PND (jm)