Palace ‘strongly’ condemns beheading of Canadian hostage

MANILA –- Malacanang on Tuesday strongly condemned the beheading of the last Canadian hostage Robert Hall held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu for the past nine months.

“We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press statement.

The Palace also extended its deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of Hall.

The Western Mindanao Command on Tuesday confirmed that the ASG bandits have beheaded Hall after his family reportedly failed to pay the PHP600 million ransom.

Last April 25, the ASG beheaded the first Canadian hostage John Ridsel after the Philippine and Canadian governments refused to pay PHP300 million ransom.

“We thank the Canadian government and people for their steadfast support and understanding which has been extremely helpful in our determined efforts to end this decades-old problem,” Coloma said.

Hall and Ridsel along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingtad and Filipina companion Marites Flor were snatched by the ASG in an exclusive resort in Samal Island on Sept. 21 last year.

“We truly regret that our people’s cherished tradition of extending gracious hospitality toward foreign nationals has been marred by a small band of criminals whose despicable actions have been abetted by the extortion of ransom from their previous victims,” Coloma said.

He said for the past two months, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have waged continuing military and law enforcement operations “that have degraded the capability of our enemies and limited their movements.”

“This latest heinous crime serves to strengthen our government’s resolve to put an end to this reign of terror and banditry,” Coloma said. Jelly Musico/PNA/