MANILA – A day after Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) released unhurt Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad in Jolo, Sulu, a Palace official said on Sunday that military troops have recovered other hostages.
“I believe, the new development was that there were other hostages recovered by our government troops aside from the Norwegian,” Presidential Communications Operations (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Sunday in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
Andanar said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza will give the additional information about other hostages recovered by the military troops.
“I still have no other development. Let’s wait for the word from Secretary Dureza,” Andanar said.
On Saturday, the ASG bandits freed Sekkingstad almost one year after he and three others – Canadians John Ridsdell, Robert Hall and Filipina Marites Flor, were abducted at Ocean View Resort in Samal Island in Davao on September 21, 2015.
The two Canadians were beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf bandits while Flor was set free last July.
Amid reports that the ASG has been paid PHP50 million for the release of the Norwegian hostage, Andanar said the government maintains a ‘no ransom policy.’
“I repeat, we have no that kind of policy. The government maintain a no ransom policy. If there is a family member or a third party who paid, we have no information, but as far as the gov’t is concern, we maintain a no ransom policy,” Andanar explained.
Andanar said the Norwegian thanked President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Dureza, Sekkingstad was released by his captors at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday somewhere in Patikul, Sulu.
Dureza said the Norwegian stayed overnight at the place of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari who volunteered to host Sekkingstad’ stay due to heavy rains and nightfall.
He said the men of Misuari and former Sulu Govenor Sakur Tan and other volunteers helped in the release of Sekkinstad.
Andanar said the release of Norwegian would not mean that the government will stop its massive military operations against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
“It’s (the release of Norwegian) is a good development and the government’s war against terrorism will continue,” he said.
The Norwegian is set to be presented by Dureza to President Duterte on Sunday.