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Justice for ASG victims vowed

President Duterte has promised to give justice to kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“I assure you…when the time comes, I will inform you that we have been able to catch up with them,” Duterte told freed ASG hostage, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, in a press conference Sunday night in Davao City. “I will say this now: Your travails in life are over,” the President added.

Sekkingstad, who met Duterte a day after he was released after a year-long captivity in Sulu Saturday, was one of four people seized by the Islamist militant group from a posh resort in Samal Island on September 21 last year.

Two of his companions, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, were beheaded by the ASG in April and June after their ransom demand of R300 million was not met. Sekkingstad’s partner, Filipina Maritess Flor, on the other hand, was also released by the local terror group in June.

Sekkingstad was fetched by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza from the camp of Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari who received him from his captors last Saturday.

Dureza said aside that from the Norwegian, they were also able to recover three Indonesian hostages who were released by the ASG.

In his speech, the President said: “Until such time that we get the – they want raw justice, we will give them, if that’s what they want.”

Duterte thanked Dureza, Misuari, and former Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan whom he said were instrumental in the release of the remaining Samal hostage.

“I would like to thank the efforts beyond human patience of Secretary Dureza and of course Nur Misuari who all along assured us that he would need time but he would succeed…And I would like to thank of course Sakur Tan, the former governor of Sulu,” said Duterte.

Duterte disclosed that he gave them “the full authority to negotiate” the release of Sekkingstad.

“It was a long, long negotiation. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve talked to Misuari even in the Cabinet meetings, I have him called and he assured me that we would be able to recover alive and well Kjartan (Sekkingstad) and so here we are. So the efforts actually belong to Misuari, Dureza, and Sakur Tan,” he said. (Elena L. Aben)

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