Aquino apologizes to Trudeau for death of Canadian hostages
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III has apologized to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the death of another Canadian hostage held by the Abu Sayyaf.
Aquino said in a news conference in Jolo, Sulu, on Wednesday, June 15, that he talked to Trudeau following the murder of Robert Hall – the second Canadian hostage killed by the Abu Sayyaf in two months.
"Nakapanayam natin si Prime Minister Trudeau ng Canada...Humingi ako ng paunmahin sa Prime Minister ng Canada dahil hindi lang isa, dalawa na sa kanilang mga kababayan ang namatay (I talked to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada. I apologized to the Prime Minister of Canada because not only one but two of their citizens died),” the President said.
"Nagpalasamat din tayo na nanindigan sila doon sa no ransom policy (We also thanked them for standing by the no-ransom policy)," he added.
Hall and fellow Canadian John Ridsdel were part of the group of 4 abducted by the Abu Sayyaf from a resort in Samal Island, Davao del Norte, in September 2015. The two Canadians had been killed – Ridsdel in April, and Hall on June 13 – after the deadline on the group's ransom payment demands lapsed.
The two others in their group – Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad and Marites Flor, a Filipino – remain in captivity.
Aquino also said he talked with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Tuesday night, regarding the rescue operations for the hostages, since one of them is a Norwegian.
The President remained steadfast on his administration's no-ransom policy, saying payment of ransom would only fund the Abu Sayyaf's operations and entice more people to join the group.
Aquino said he went to Jolo to meet with security and police officials conducting the pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf to get a "complete picture" of the situation, and to discuss "refinements" in the operations for the "successful rescue of the remaining hostages."
Responding to questions, the President said he considered declaring martial law in Sulu in the last 3 weeks, but he ditched the plan after the assessment that it would cause more harm than good later on.
Meanwhile, the Abu Sayyaf allowed Kenningstad to be interviewed on Radio Mindanao Network to persuade authorities to meet the ransom demand.
He said he was told that he would be next if the demand is not met, and that the Filipina hostage is mourning the death of her boyfriend, Hall. – Rappler.com