MANILA – The Philippine government on Monday said it is pleased with the safe release of 10 Indonesian sailors abducted by the Abu Sayyaf last March 26 as it assured foreign governments that it continues to work for the freedom of their nationals still being held by the militants.
“While intensified operations continue on the ground, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) maintains close coordination with concerned foreign governments in ensuring the safe return of all the remaining hostages,” a Foreign Affairs statement said.
The Indonesians were seized at sea in March, sparking a regional maritime security concern.
They were released on Sunday afternoon and were dropped off in front of the house of Sulu province governor.
It was not known if ransom was paid.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, 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 Abu Sayyaf on April 25 beheaded one of their two Canadian hostages after their US$ 6.5-million ransom demand was not met.
John Ridsel, 68, was executed by his captors, hours after the April 25 deadline for their demand to pay the ransom for each of the foreign hostages in their custody passed. His head, wrapped in a plastic bag, was dropped by two men on motorcycle near the Jolo city hall in Sulu.
Still being held by the group are Canadian Robert Hall and his partner, Filipina Marites Flor, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, the manager of the Ocean View Samal Resort, where they were abducted on Sept. 21, 2015.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed outrage at the “cold-blooded murder” of Ridsel.