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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Abu Sayyaf beheads 2nd Canadian hostage meant to embarrass Duterte

The Philippine government confirmed on Tuesday that the notorious Abu Sayyaf group has beheaded a second Canadian hostage after their demands for a $1.3-million ransom was not met.

The gang of Muslim bandits with alleged ties to the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda issued a statement earlier saying that the killing of Robert Hall, the Canadian hostage, was meant to embarrass incoming President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

"This is for Duterte, the new President. This is for you to know what we will do to the Canadian," Abu Raami, the Abu Sayyaf spokesperson, told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Monday.

Seven other hostages are still being held by the bandits including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Dutchman Ewold Horn and Hall's partner, Filipino Maritess Flor. They were abducted from a marina in Mindanao last September. The other Canadian, former mining executive John Ridsdel, was beheaded by the bandits on April 25 in Sulu province.

In the telephone interview with the Inquirer, Raami noted that Duterte—the tough-talking Davao City mayor who is to formally assume the presidency on June 30 after winning in the May 9 elections—had verbally promised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he will get the hostages alive and that what happened to Ridsdel will not be repeated. "Let's see if you will not be embarrassed," Raami said.

Duterte apologised to Trudeau for Ridsdel's death during a press conference last month in Davao City.

The President-elect has not issued any statement to the media for almost two weeks now after announcing his decision to stop talking to reporters.

Asked about Duterte's plans for the Abu Sayyaf, the President-elect's spokesman Salvador Panelo said "the concern about the Abu Sayyaf should be addressed to the present administration because he [Duterte] is not yet the President."

"What I know is President-elect Duterte will not tolerate or condone the illegality in this country. He will do everything in this power to stop all these ... . That's his commitment, to stop all these cases of criminality," Panelo added.

Incoming Philippine national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the Duterte administration would "take a stronger action against lawlessness in the South."

"We cannot allow this situation to continue. This should end once and for all," Esperon told Reuters.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III informed Trudeau about the latest killing in a late-night call on Monday, soon after the government verified Hall's death.

"We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall, a Canadian national, after being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu for the past nine months," Aquino told Trudeau in a statement.

In response, Trudeau said that despite the deaths of two Canadian hostages, his government would not give in to demands of paying ransom to terrorist groups, like the Abu Sayyaf.

"I want to reiterate that terrorist hostage-takings only fuel more violence and instability. Canada will not give into their fear-mongering tactics and despicable attitude toward the suffering of others," Trudeau said in a statement.

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