THE beheading of a Filipino hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) ignited the military’s resolve to deal the terrorist group the lethal blow, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Eduardo Año.
“While the AFP condemns this gruesome murder of this hapless kidnap victim, it all the more drives our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines to deliver the lethal blow against this band of terrorists and rescue the remaining kidnap victims,” Año said on Monday.
“This terrorist group is fueling the desire of the AFP to crush their beastly practice, stop their kidnap-for-ransom activities, and restore peace in Western Mindanao,” he added.
Malacañang and the AFP expressed their “extreme indignation” on the beheading of Noel Besconde, the captain of F/B Ramona, who was abducted along with three others in the Celebes Sea in December last year.
The ASG executed Besconde on April 13 in Patikul, Sulu.
“We will never falter. We will not rest even a bit in our conduct of combat, intelligence, and civil-military operations to protect our people. We will exhaust all means — legal and moral– to bring this war against terrorists to conclusion,” Año said.
He appealed to residents of Sulu and Basilan and other parts of Western Mindanao to help security forces “to stop the ASG’s criminal and evil acts.”
“They have no place in our civilized society,” he pointed out.
The ASG, which is still holding about two dozen Asian sailors, has not released a statement on the execution of Besconde.
Año earlier expressed confidence that the AFP can meet its deadline to decimate the terror group by June this year.
The Palace said local officials and security forces will pursue the Abu Sayyaf bandits and hold them accountable for their crimes.
The President’s spokesman Ernesto Abella called on citizens to remain vigilant and watchful and cooperate with security forces.
“Let us work against common criminals to make our communities safer and ensure a nation worthy of all Filipinos,” Abella said.