Philippines' Duterte tells Islamist militants to free hostages

The Philippines’ incoming president called on Islamist militants Monday to free hostages that they have threatened to behead on a southern island.

In his first press conference since winning the May 9 elections, Rodrigo Duterte said the Abu Sayyaf group would face a “reckoning” if it does not stop its terrorist activities.

“I am now asking them to stop it,” he said Davao City, 990 kilometres south of Manila, where he is the outgoing mayor.

“You are destroying the image of the country, not only the image of the country, but the economy."

Duterte issued the statement as the Abu Sayyaf released a new video threatening to execute Canadian John Hall by June 13 if ransom of 600 million pesos (13 million dollars) is not paid.

One of the kidnappers warned the Canadian and the Philippine governments “not to play games.”

“We are determined to slaughter all the captives if you do not comply with our demands,” one militant said. “We are not afraid of you, your soldiers or airplanes.”

In the video, Hall said his execution has been set for 3 pm (Manila time) on June 13.

“I appeal to my government and to the Philippine government, as I have appealed before, for help,” he said.

Hall was kidnapped along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstand and Filipino Marites Flor on Jolo Island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

On April 25, the militants executed Canadian John Ridsdel after a deadline to pay ransom lapsed.

The four hostages were abducted on September 21 from the southern resort island of Samal, less than half an hour away from Davao City by ferry.

“There has to be a reckoning somehow,” Duterte said. “I cannot say it now but there has to be a time when they (Abu Sayyaf) have to surrender for the crimes that they did, and that they have to release all the hostages.”

Abu Sayyaf is also believed to be holding hostage a Dutch birdwatcher, four Malaysian sailors and an undetermined number of Filipinos on Jolo.

Aside from high-profile kidnappings for ransom involving foreign hostages, the militants have also been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Philippines.

Last update: Mon, 16/05/2016 - 12:11
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