JOLO, Sulu – Abu Sayyaf rebels have beheaded one of two Canadian hostages they had abducted from a resort in Samal Island in Davao last year, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to denounce the cold-blooded killing.
The killing followed a travel warning by the United States State Department on all Americans to avoid Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan and all of Mindanao due to the resurgence of kidnappings and terrorist threats in the region.
The slain Canadian was identified as John Ridsel, 68.
Another Canadian, Robert Hall, is still held captive by the rebels together his partner, Filipina Marites Flor, and Norweigian Kjartan Sekkingstad, the manager of the Ocean View Samal Resort, where they were abducted on Sept. 21, 2015.
Malacanang, the Departments of National Defense, Interior and Local Government and Foreign Affairs denounced the killing as they assured Canada that the Philippine government is doing its best to rescue the remaining captives.
President Aquino, although belatedly, ordered the military and police to step up efforts to locate the kidnapers and free the remaining hostages.
In a statement, the DFA said it “strongly condemns this cruel and inhuman act perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf group, and reiterates its strong resolve to oppose terrorism in all of its forms.”The Al-Qaeda-linked militant group, which has been listed as a terrorist organization by the Philippines and United States, is notorious for beheading its hostages. It was also responsible for several terrorist attacks in the country and kidnapping of foreigners in the southern Philippines.
“The DFA extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. John Ridsdel and to the Government and people of Canada. We join you in grieving for the lives lost in this senseless act of violence,” the department said.
“We support our brave men in uniform – some of whom have sacrificed life and limb – who remain relentless in rescuing the remaining hostages and bringing these nefarious elements to justice,” it added.
Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will continue to find and rescue the remaining captives of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Canadian national John Ridsdel who had been held captive and confirmed killed by Abu Sayyaf militants. It is unfortunate that this had to happen despite our efforts to negotiate for his release along with his fellow captives,” Sarmiento said.
“However, we should not allow ourselves to be terrorized by this gruesome incident. This is what these terrorists want,” he added.
Sarmiento also assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will continue working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local government units to find and secure the safety of the remaining captives.
“I join our entire nation and the people of Canada in praying for Ridsdel. May his sacrifice inspire us even more to strive harder to defeat these barbaric zealots and finally let peace take its place in Mindanao,” he noted.