Philippines: After another beheading, President Duterte ordered Philippine military troops to crush the Abu Sayyaf


Abus behead local captive; P50 M paid for Norwegian

President Rodrigo Duterte said he was angered by the beheading of a kidnap victim believed to be Patrick Almodovar, 18, a native of Jolo, Sulu and son of a court stenographer who was kidnapped last July 16 just outside their house. Photo from Facebook

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte ordered yesterday military troops to crush the Abu Sayyaf after the bandits beheaded another captive when their ultimatum to pay ransom lapsed on Wednesday afternoon.

“Kill the enemies of the state,” the President told the soldiers as he surprised them with a sumptuous dinner and durian feast, aside from handing each of them a G-shock watch on Wednesday night, before sending them off to Sulu to fight the Abu Sayyaf.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has ordered the deployment and insertion of additional troops in Sulu and Basilan to run after the bandits.

The President said he was angered by the beheading of a kidnap victim believed to be Patrick Almodovar, 18, a native of Jolo, Sulu and son of a court stenographer who was kidnapped last July 16 just outside their house.

Duterte also bared at least P50 million in ransom had been paid to the Abu Sayyaf for Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad’s freedom. However, the Norwegian was not released.

The Abu Sayyaf has been demanding P300 million from each of the foreigners they took from a resort off Samal island in September last year. Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall were beheaded, while Filipina Marites Flor was released from captivity.

“Seek out. Seek them out in their lairs whatever and destroy them. Drugs, destroy them. Abu Sayyaf, destroy them,” the President told reporters in a subsequent press conference, referring to his directives to the police and the military.

Asked what would make his campaign against Abu Sayyaf different from those of previous administrations, Duterte replied: “I said I’ll be harsh. But that is just a campaign. Go out and destroy them.”

During the dinner at a Chinese restaurant here, the President shared steamed pompano, fried chicken, vegetables, sweet and sour pork, among other dishes with the soldiers to boost their morale.

The President’s gesture obviously took the soldiers by surprise.

The President then sent off the company of soldiers belonging to the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion early yesterday morning. The troops took a C-130 military aircraft to Jolo, Sulu, the Abu Sayyaf’s lair.

Duterte arrived at the Tactical Operations Group 11 of the Philippine Air Force on a private plane from Manila late Wednesday night, where the company of soldiers happened to be in formation as they were waiting for the C-130 flight that would take them to Jolo.

Upon being told that they were bound for Sulu, the President made an impromptu invitation for them to join him for dinner.

The soldiers, who were the only ones left as the bulk of battalion forces already flew to Jolo the day before, feasted on as much durian as they wanted at the Magsaysay Park after the dinner.

Hot pursuit

In Zamboanga City, police said the victim was executed around 3 p.m. Wednesday, the same date of the ultimatum imposed by the Abu Sayyaf for the victim’s family to comply with its P1-million ransom demand.

Last week, the Abu Sayyaf posted a video on social media showing Almodovar speaking in Tausug and pleading for help from Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan II to help him pay the ransom.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman for Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said reports reaching them disclosed a decapitated head believed to be that of Almodovar was recovered by police elements about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Kilometer 2, Barangay Katian, Indanan town.

Tan said the head was wrapped in a plastic bag and was left behind by three unidentified men on board a motorcycle. It was immediately brought to the Indanan police.

Members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) are still confirming if it indeed belongs to Almodovar.

Police and military forces are also searching for the body of the victim.

Tan said the operation continued relentlessly against the Abu Sayyaf. He said additional troops were pulled out from counter-insurgency duties in Luzon, the Visayas and in some areas of Mindanao.

“It’s been going on since the first of this month,” Tan said, adding their arrival was a big relief for the 5,000 soldiers based in Sulu and 2,500 in Basilan. He did not disclose the number of additional troops deployed.

“There is no delay in our ground forces operation against the Abu Sayyaf group. In fact, there is continued troop insertion on the ground,” Tan said.

He said AFP chief of staff General Ricardo Visaya would be flying to Sulu to ensure that the ongoing operations would be relentless to crush the Abu Sayyaf. – With Alexis Romero, Jaime Laude


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