President Aquino meets with security cluster

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday was briefed on the ongoing military and law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“The President received an update on the ongoing military and law enforcement operations against the ASG in Sulu as part of continuing efforts to bring about the safe release of kidnapped hostages,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

President Aquino met with the security cluster at 1 p.m. at the President’s Hall of Malacañang Palace. The security cluster, chaired by the Office of the Executive Secretary, consists of the departments of the interior and local government, foreign affairs, national defense, and justice, as well as the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and the National Security Council.
Last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police gave the Chief Executive updates on the security situation in Mindanao.

Secretary Coloma has said that the government continues to “exert determined efforts to bring about the safe release of the kidnap-for-ransom hostages through a combination of law enforcement and military operations”.

In April, President Aquino vowed that the full resources of the State are being brought down on the ASG and the government will not stop until the threat posed by the group is ended.

“Our primary objective is to rescue the hostages and ensure the safety of our civilian population. We will leave no stone unturned and are studying every instrument, both military and legal, to ensure success in our areas of operations and wherever else required,” he said.

The ASG last April beheaded Canadian mining executive John Ridsdel after the government failed to pay the P300 million ransom demanded by the bandits.

The group is still holding three captives — Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marites Flor – who were abducted along with Ridsdel in Samal Island in September last year. PND (kt)