MANILA — Government forces will intensify its campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group after the release of two German nationals it held captive for several months.
“With the release from captivity of the two German nationals, our security forces will continue efforts to stem the tide of criminality perpetrated by bandit elements,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement Saturday.
“Kasunod ng pagligtas ng mga binihag na dalawang mamamayang Aleman, ipagpapatuloy ng mga puwersang pang seguridad ang pagtugis at pagsabat sa mga grupong bandido.”
In a radio interview Saturday morning, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Aquino was glad that the foreign hostages were release on Friday evening.
“Natuwa naman po ang Pangulo sa magandang balita na na-release ang mga German hostages (The President was pleased with the good news that the German hostages were finally released),” Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
“As we have said in the past, the primary concern is the safety of the hostages and the President was happy to receive the news yesterday when he was informed that the two German hostages have already been recovered at around 9:00 p.m. last night,” she added.
According to Valte, the President’s concern was about the physical condition of the German hostages and the President was informed that the hostages will undergo medical check up at a military camp in Jolo.
After that they will be transported to Zamboanga City where they will be given more medical attention before they are arranged for a flight to Manila, Valte added.
Asked about the payment of ransom for the release of the hostages, Valte said she cannot confirm that information noting that the government has a longstanding policy for non-payment of ransom to terrorist groups.
The ASG released Stefan Okonek, 71, and Henrite Dielen, in her 50s, on the day the group had threatened to kill one of them.
The rebels had demanded ransom and for Germany to stop supporting US-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq. They threatened to kill Okonek on Friday if their demands were not met.
The Germans were seized by the ASG in April when their yacht broke down near the southern island of Palawan en route to Sabah in eastern Malaysia.