IN a video released this week by Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, captors of three foreign nationals and a Filipino woman held hostage say the foreigners will be killed in a month if families don’t meet their demands.
The Philippine military, however, said it is standing by the government’s no ransom policy.
“We will just continue with our focused military operations based on available information to support the police operations,” said Col. Noel Detoyato, public affairs office chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), adding that “the safety of the hostages is a primary concern during combat operations.”
Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, a spokesman for the AFP, told Reuters that army units are following the militants, who kidnapped the four hostages in September 2015.
“We’re getting closer to them, hence, they needed to expedite the demand for ransom in order for them to escape from the hands of the law, which is closely catching up,” Padilla said.
No specific demands were mentioned in the video, but a clip released in November shows one captor saying militants want $21 million per hostage. Militants have set a deadline of April 8 for their demands to be met.
A Canadian hostage, John Ridsdel, was the first hostage to appeal to his country’s government in the video, Inquirer reported.
“For my wife, to my family and this is so much bigger than my family, to the Canadian Prime Minister and to the Canadian people in the world, please, do as needed to meet their demand within one month or they will kill me, they will execute us,” Ridsdel said.
Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad said his message would be his last to family and friends.
“Follow the negotiation, try to meet their demands within 30 days or we are all dead,” he said.
Both the Canadian and Norwegian governments said later they are aware of the video but declined to comment on it. Norway, however, did say it is working with the Philippine government.
Reuters reported that the group is also holding hostage a captive from the Netherlands, one from Japan and an Italian missionary.