MANILA –The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday condemned the beheading of German national Juergen Gustav Kantner by the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms, this cruel and inhuman act by the Abu Sayaf Group (ASG), and reiterate our firm resolve to oppose terrorism in all its forms,” DFA spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said in a text message.
He said the Philippine government will exert utmost effort to ensure the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Kanter and to the Government and the people of the Federal Republic of Germany. We stand in solidarity with Germany as it grieves for the tragic loss of one of its sons to a senseless act of violence,” Jose said.
The 70-year-old Kantner, together with his companion, were taken captive in November 2016 while sailing on a 53-footer yacht near Sabah, Malaysia and were brought to Jolo. His companion was shot dead when she tried to resist the militants.
The ASG bandits demanded USD600,000 (Php30 Million) ransom and threatened to kill the victim should they fail to deliver their demand on or before February 26 at 3 pm.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., speaking on the sidelines of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, said Manila was seeking technological help from allies to pinpoint the hostages’ location.
The Philippines has deployed thousands of troops in the ASG strongholds of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo islands, yet despite air and ground offensives, the group’s piracy and kidnappings continue unabated.
The video which was sent to Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza showed a machete-wielding militant behead Kantner.
Kantner had appealed for help twice in short video messages, saying he would be killed if ransom was not paid.
Dureza said officials had exhausted all efforts using all available resources to save Kantner.
The Philippines’ armed forces pledged in a separate statement to bring Kantner’s killers to justice and to continue operations to free other hostages held by Abu Sayyaf.
In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a united international front against terrorism.
“The chancellor condemns this hideous attack that shows, once again, how unprincipled and barbarous terrorists act,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. “We’ve all got to stand together in the fight against terrorists.”
ASG is currently holding 26 hostages – 13 Vietnamese, seven Filipinos, a Dutch national, a Japanese, two Indonesians and two Malaysians, the military says.
Experts said the group is very unlikely to free any hostages without payment.