The Duterte administration is taking many steps in rescuing the remaining foreign and local hostages of the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya.
The military is stepping up their surgical strike against the group to keep the bandits running said Visaya.
Visaya which has personally visited to oversee the ongoing military operation, said their main goal is to rescue the foreign and local captives, including Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Our soldiers were directed to continue the pressure for the rescue of the hostages,” said Visaya.
However, the AFP chief-of-staff said the soldiers were also directed to be careful and take into matters the safety of the hostages.
“We should ensure the safety of the hostages that we can rescue them without compromising their safety,” said Visaya.
Aside from Sekkingstad, the Abu Sayyaf bandits have been holding captives Dutch birdwatcher Ewold Horns, seven Indonesian sailors and three local residents.
Sekkingstad was captured along with Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Filipina Marites Flor last Sept. 21, 2015 in Samal Island resort off Davao province.
Ridsdel and Hall were beheaded in April and June, respectively, by the Abu Sayyaf group after the Canadian government refused to pay the P300-million ransom for each captive. Flor, on the other hand, was freed on June 24.
Flor’s release came barely a day when the Abu Sayyaf group seized seven Indonesian tugboat crew members off Tawi-Tawi.
Visaya said there is no ultimatum set by the president in the rescue and recovery of the hostages.
“The government is taking many steps to address the problem. The political side will do its thing and we will do our thing. The main objective here is to end the Abu Sayyaf problem here,” he said.
Source: The Philippine Star