President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday apologized to Germany for the failure of government troops to save Jurgen Gustav Kantner, who has been beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
Duterte said the Philippine government tried its best but failed to save the German hostage’s life.
“I am very sorry that the hostage, a national of your country, has been beheaded. I sympathize with the family, I commiserate with the German people. But I said, we tried, there’s a massive operation going on and I have just announced to you, they’re beginning to use air assets,” the President said.
“We really tried our best. We have been there, the military operation has been going on for sometime already and but we have failed and so that has to be admitted,” he added.
The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Kantner on Sunday after the group’s demand for a P30 million ransom was ignored.
Duterte stressed that the government is sticking to its no-ransom policy because more people will be taken hostage if ransom is paid.
“There’s nothing wrong in admitting a failure but it’s a matter of policy that we do not surrender to the demands of paying ransom. It will just increase the numbers,” he said in a news conference.
The Abu Sayyaf released a video of Kantner being killed by a bolo-wielding man on Monday.
Secretary Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, confirmed late Monday night that the Abu Sayyaf executed Kantner.
“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim,” Dureza said in a statement. “There must be a stop to this killing of the innocent and the helpless.”
Duterte reiterated his order to government forces to crush the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“It’s [Mindanao] a big place. It’s not a one-hectare island that you can really overrun. There are many places to hide. And for the first time, we are even using air assets,” the President said.
“I have to improve on our night-flying capability. But we’re nearing that. As a matter of fact, we had an operation by air and by ground the other day in Jolo,” he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also on Tuesday extended its sympathies to the family of Kantner.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is greatly saddened by the death of Mr. Juergen Gustav Kantner. We condemn, in the strongest terms, this cruel and inhuman act by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and reiterate our firm resolve to oppose terrorism in all its forms. The Philippine Government will do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice,” the DFA said in a statement.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Kantner and to the Government and the people of the Federal Republic of Germany.We stand in solidarity with Germany as it grieves for the tragic loss of one of its sons to a senseless act of violence,” it added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. who is attending a United Nations event on human rights in Geneva, also condemned the brutal killing.
In November last year, Kantner and his partner Sabine Merz were abducted while sailing in the southern Philippine sea.
WITH JAIME PILAPIL