Palace condemns murder of Canadian hostage

Malacañang has condemned the death of Canadian Robert Hall at the hands of his captors, the Abu Sayyaf group, in Sulu province on Monday.

The 50-year-old Hall was the second Canadian hostage to be beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf after ransom demands were not met. The militant group was asking for a P600 million ransom for Hall and two other hostages to be paid by June 13.

The Abu Sayyaf also executed mining executive John Ridsdel after a ransom deadline expired last April 25.

“We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall, a Canadian national, after being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu for the past nine months. We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his bereaved family,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“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,” Secretary Coloma added.

“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 the continuous operations of the military and police “have degraded the capability of our enemies and limited their movements”.

“For the past two months, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP (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,” he said.

The two Canadians, Hall’s Filipina girlfriend Marites Flor, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf on September 21 last year from a resort on Samal Island. PND (jm)