THE unfortunate story of the kidnapping of four people from a Samal island resort in 2015 – two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Filipina – continues with no end in sight.
Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Khartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marites Flor were kidnapped in September, 2015, and the Abu Sayyaf demanded ransom for their release. The government issued its standard response that government troops were pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and there would be no ransom payment for that is against official government policy.
“If you think your policy is better than the lives of the captives, certainly we will do something terrible against them,” a masked man shown with the kidnap victims said in a video last March. As promised, the first of the four kidnap victims, Ridsdel, was beheaded in April. If it continues to be ignored, the Abu Sayyaf said, they would execute another one of the four victims. Last Monday, June 13. Hall, the second Canadian, was beheaded.
Incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the outgoing Aquino administration is still responsible as President-elect Duterte has not yet assumed office. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau had earlier called Duterte to congratulate him on his election victory and Duterte had expressed his apologies for the killing of Ridsdel. “We will try to see that nothing like this will happen again,” he said. Well, it has happened again but, as Panelo has pointed out, President Aquino is still in office.
This dismal saga continues as there are two other Samal kidnap victims still in Abu Sayyaf hands. So far it has been able to do exactly what it said it would do and when. The government, on the other hand, has been able to announce only that military forces are in close pursuit of the kidnap band.
In 12 more days, the whole unfortunate case with all its international implications passes on to President Duterte.
We – along with the families of the remaining kidnap victims – hope that he will do much better than his predecessor.