KUALA LUMPUR: President Benigno Aquino 3rd expressed his deepest regret and sympathy over the beheading of a Malaysian national in Jolo, Sulu last November 17.
In reaction to the opening address of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during the 27th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)Summit here, President Aquino said the Philippines “stands in solidarity with Malaysia and the ASEAN in fighting terrorism”.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said following the ruthless beheading of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, President Aquino has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to further intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other terror threat elements.
Jihadi militants from the ASG beheaded Then at a remote town in Jolo, Sulu after their demands of a large ransom were not met.
Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to set up a joint taskforce to track down those responsible for the merciless killing of Then.
In his opening address, Prime Minister Razak blasted the recent deadly attacks and atrocities perpetrated by terrorist groups linked to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“The perpetrators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed, nor should we allow them to claim to do so. They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law,” said Razak.
“We are ever vigilant against a threat that is very real in our region. Local militants and groups, such as Abu Sayyaf, have sworn allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. It was they who cruelly murdered our countryman, Bernard Then, on Tuesday,” he added.
He likewise cited the recent terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, the bombing of a Russian passenger plane and Friday’s hostage taking at a hotel in Bamako, Mali, where 21 people were killed.
“There cannot be a person in this hall who has not been shocked and shaken by the sickening disregard for human life and the devastation visited on families and communities. Our countries are in mourning. We all share in this grief,” the Prime Minister said.
He told ASEAN leaders to “recognize that problems of extremism today require new solutions”.
Like Aquino, Razak assured that Malaysia stands ready to provide any help and support and stands with the ASEAN in combating terrorism.