Aquino ‘appalled’ by beheading of Canadian, sends letter to family | Global News

Aquino ‘appalled’ by beheading of Canadian, sends letter to family

/ 03:37 PM April 27, 2016

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday said he personally extended his sympathies to the family of the Canadian national beheaded by the bandit group Abu Sayyaf.

“Yesterday, I sent a letter to the family of John Ridsdel expressing our condolences,” the President said in a statement.

“We are so appalled by this murder. Mr. Ridsdel was a person against whom no one had any grievance—a person who was powerless against his captors,” he said. “This murder was meant to terrorize our whole population.”


Inquirer Mindanao earlier reported that Ridsdel, 68, was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf despite news that P20 million has been raised for his ransom.


“The Abu Sayyaf thought they could instill fear in us; instead, they have galvanized us even further to ensure justice is meted out,” Aquino said.

He said the government has been open to negotiate with armed groups who “desire peace” but he said “those who commit atrocities can expect the full might of the State.”

READ: Headless body found in Sulu belongs to Canadian? Military verifying

“I am ready to devote all my energies towards ensuring that, at the very least, this will be a very seriously degraded problem that I will pass on to my successor,” Aquino said.

Plot to kidnap Pacquiao, Kris Aquino

The President, in his statement, enumerated the efforts to defeat the Abu Sayyaf, which was founded in the early 1990s, supposedly as an affiliate of the Al-Qaeda.


“The Abu Sayyaf has committed atrocity upon atrocity. There was the sacking of Ipil in 1995, the bombing of Davao International Airport in 2003, and multiple cases of kidnapping foreign tourists over the past decade and a half,” Aquino said. “Their actions speak for themselves. Even as it poses as a group of Islamic freedom fighters, the Abu Sayyaf has behaved as criminals focused on enriching themselves by taking hostages for ransom.”

Aquino acknowledged that the Abu Sayyaf and other smaller groups want to be associated with the infamous Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “to gain access to the funds and resources of ISIS.”

In this light, the groups aimed to bomb parts of Metro Manila to catch the attention of ISIS, which gained notoriety for beheading journalists and other hostages.

“May I emphasize that these have been, and remain, only aspirations,” Aquino said.

He added that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon also tried to convert fellow New Bilibid Prison detainees and establish ties with the Rajah Sulayman Movement in an attempt to “embark on a bombing campaign in Metro Manila.”

“They allegedly even hatched plots to kidnap Manny Pacquiao or one of his children, as well as my sister Kris or one of her children, with the plan to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts. Threats against my own life have been investigated,” Aquino said.

He said there were no reporters of explosive devices from Hapilon’s groups while authorities were able to arrest those involved in the plot.

“I credit our security services for putting these threats to bed with both professionalism and discretion. The public may rest assured that they may go about their daily lives without fear or unease,” Aquino said. “However, we want to continue to seriously erode any ability of the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) to continue to function.”

The President said there are still operations in Basilan against the groups of Hapilon and Furuji Indama.

Intensive operations

He said the remaining captives, the three others abducted with Ridsdel, are under the control of Radillon Sajiron’s group.

READ: Aquino orders rescue of Abu Sayyaf hostages

He said Sajiron has “consolidated his forces around himself and the captives.”

“This presents both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because of the sizeable force surrounding Sajiron and the captives, but it is also an opportunity because smashing these forces is within our grasp,” he explained.

Aquino said the full resources of the government are being utilized for the intensive operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

READ: Go get Canadian’s killers, Aquino tells police, military

“Our primary objective is to rescue the hostages and ensure the safety of our civilian population. We will leave no stone unturned and are studying every instrument, both military and legal, to ensure success in our areas of operations and wherever else required,” he said.

The President added that casualties should be expected but what is important is that the Abu Sayyaf is neutralized.

“The men and women in our Armed Forces are well-trained, well-equipped, and resourceful. I have full trust and confidence in them,” he said.

Aquino explained that while his administration has emphasized dialogue in dealing with armed groups, it “will always act from a position of strength.”

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“So, to the ASG, and whoever may aid or abet them, you have chosen only the language of force, and we will speak to you only in that language. We will not stop until the threat they pose to our communities is ended,” he said. CDG/RAM

TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Benigno Aquino III, Canadian, Hostage, John Ridsdel

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