Incoming presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo has given an explanation as to why President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has remained silent on the beheading of Canadian Robert Hall in the hands of the terror group Abu Sayyaf.
“Sa kanya (Duterte) I think the concern about the Abu Sayyaf should be addressed to the present administration dahil hindi pa naman siya presidente,” Atty. Panelo told the media at the Marco Polo Hotel.
(For him, I think the concern about the Abu Sayyaf should be addressed to the present administration because he is not yet the president.)
“Wala pa naman siyang sinabi sa akin, nag-usap kami kagabi. Hindi napag-usapan,” Panelo added.
(He has not yet said anything, we talked last night. It was not discussed.)
On Monday, the Abu Sayyaf group announced that they had already beheaded Robert Hall – a mining consultant from Canada – as the deadline lapsed for the P600-million ransom payment that the bandit group was demanding from the negotiators.
Authorities found a severed head in Jolo, Sulu which was then brought to Manila for DNA testing. The DNA test confirmed that the severed head was Hall’s.
Hall, Canadian John Risdel, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Maritess Flor were seized by the Abu Sayyaf while staying at the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte on Sept. 21, 2015. Risdel had already been beheaded on April 25 after the deadline lapsed for his P300-million ransom.
Asked what Duterte’s plan is to deal with the terror group, Panelo said that they would talk about it once the outgoing Davao City mayor assumes the presidential office.
“Basta ang alam ko (All I know is that) President-elect Duterte will not tolerate or condone ang illegality in this country,” Panelo explained.
Panelo added that the terror activities of radical Islam groups are part of the criminality that Duterte has vowed to stop. The spokesman also said that he would not be surprised if the president-elect has actually already efforts in trying to rescue the remaining hostages without letting him know about it.